A former midfielder of Japan, Hajime Moriyasu, has been associated with the national set-up for five consecutive years now. Four years back, he worked as an assistant to Akira Nishino in the Russia World Cup, where Japan lost to Belgium in the pre-quarterfinals.
Moriyasu began his coaching career with his former club Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2012. He had a successful stint, winning the J1 League title in his first season and three times in total during his regime. He also guided the side to a third-place finish in the 2015 Club World Cup.
The 54-year-old joined Japan’s coaching panel in 2017 when he was tasked to manage the U-23 team. In 2019, he replaced Nishino ahead of the AFC Asian Cup. He guided the Samurai Blue to the final, where it lost to Qatar, marking Japan’s first defeat in the summit clash of the continental championship.
Since then, he reformed the team, which had players aged above 25 in the 2018 World Cup. He promoted Takehiro Tomiyasu, 24, to a regular starting position. In his 26-member squad for the Qatar World Cup only two players from the previous edition - Maya Yoshida and Hiroki Sakai - could retain their places. This move drew severe criticism for Moriyasu, especially after Japan finished fourth in the Tokyo Olympics.
Moriyasu is known for his cautious offence and defense. He usually deploys 4-2-3-1 formation. His young team will face a tough test in Qatar as it faces European giants Germany and Spain.
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