Our prediction for this World Cup 2022 match:
After rolling over Myanmar 10-0, Japan will be aiming to cement top position in Group F when they take on Tajikistan on Monday afternoon. The Samurai Blue have been impressive in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, and, no doubt, they are determined to keep their 100% record intact. Liverpool ace Minamino, who scored a brace in the crushing of Myanmar, will be the man to watch in the home team, while Osako should continue to lead the line for Hajime Moriyasu’s charges.
Tajikistan, on the other hand, aim to build on a 3-0 win over Mongolia, but Japan will pose a much bigger threat for the visitors than their previous rivals. Even though the Samurai Blue have already booked their place in the next round of the World Cup qualifiers, home win should be considered. Manuchekhr Dzhalilov is widely expected to lead the line for the visiting team.
Highlighted Player (Hiroki Sakai):
Hiroki Sakai is a product of Kashiwa Reysol football academy and, as expected, he made his first-team debut with the Hitachi Kashiwa Soccer Stadium outfit. Sakai played his first ever match for Kashiwa against Kofu (1-1) on May 5, 2010 and during the 2011 season he established himself as a first-team regular.
The pacey right back made 27 appearances for Kashiva in the 2011 season and he remained at the club until the summer of 2012. Hiroki Sakai then played for Hannover (2012-2016) and he scored two goals in 92 appearances in the league for the Bundesliga club. In 2016 he joined Marseille and he played regularly for OM in the 2016/2017 Ligue 1 campaign (35 appearances).
Sakai was born in Kashiva on April 12, 1990 and 22 years later he made his senior debut for Japan, playing 45 minutes in a 2-0 win over Azerbaijan. It has to be noted that the Marseille footballer has 17 caps for Japan U23 team as well.
Highlighted Team (Japan):
Japan national team have been making progress year by year. The Samurai Blue are regarded as one of the best Asian teams and they have established themselves as the regular participants of the FIFA World Cup finals. Japan qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France for the first time in the national team’s history, but they have been taking part at the showpiece tournament ever since.
The Samurai Blue then co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea and they did well to make it to the last 16 of the major tournament. The Japanese national team repeated the success eight years later in South Africa, where they were beaten by Paraguay on penalties in the last 16.
It has to be noted that Japan are the only Asian team that participated in the Copa America, with the team taking part in the 2009 and the 2011 tournament. The Samurai Blue wear blue shirts and blue shorts when playing at home, whereas their away kits are grey-white.