World Cup: Japan
(Koji Sasahara / AP)
Japan's players pose before a match against Bahrain on March 28, 2009, at Saitamal Stadium near Tokyo.
Men's ranking: 45
Overall World Cup record: 2-6-2
Coach: Takeshi Okada
Best performance: Second round, 2002
Overview: Winner of three of the last five Asian Cups, Japan will be making its fourth consecutive World Cup appearance. The offense runs largely through the left foot of experienced winger Shunsuke Nakamura, who played for Italy's Reggina and Spain's Espanyol and starred for Scottish Premier League champion Celtic. Former national team defender Takeshi Okada, who coached the Samurai Blue to a disappointing performance in Japan's first Cup in 1998, is reportedly under intense pressure to do better this time. -- Kevin Baxter