Wednesday, 24 July 2024



Japan's National Team: 1986-92

Probably the greatest indication of Kenji Mori's impact on Japanese football lies in the fact that he defined the character of coaching on the national team for almost as many years, as "former coach", as he did as coach. To a significant extent, the reigns of both of his successors were determined by his legacy.

The Ishii era lasted only a year and a half. Although his teams were quite successful, defeating opponents like Syria and Algeria and suffering no real catastrophic defeats, Ishii's performance was always measured by the yardstick of Mori, and both fans and back-room bosses decided rather early on that he was not right for the job. After a narrow win and a slightly less narrow loss to China in late 1987, he was unceremoniously dumped.

Kenzo Yokoyama probably deserves to have an "era" named after him, as he lasted longer at the helm than most other Japanese coaches prior to 1998. He also is an institution in the Japanese football world, having been a long-time coach, director or general manager in the Mitsubishi Football Club/Urawa Reds organisation. However, he deserves to be lumped with Ishii in the "post-Mori" category because the two are mirror images of one another. Ishii was dumped early because of Mori's impact, and Yokoyama probably owes his longevity in the position to similar considerations. Yokoyama's won-lost result was extremely poor, yet he remained in his position for nearly five years because -- after having fired Ishii for no other reason than "he wasnt Mori" -- the JFA bosses were apparently reluctant to do the same to a second coach.

Yokoyama had plenty of talented players to work with, including young libero Masami Iihara, who would eventually go on to become Japan's most capped player. In front of Iihara was stopper Tetsuji Hashiratani, who also played alongside Iihara at Nissan Football Club. In addition to a stable defensive core, Yokoyama had some strikers who would display reasonabley good scoring prowess throughout their careers, including Kenta Hasegawa, Hiromi Hara, Hisahi Kurosaki and in later years, Kazuyoshi (Kazu) Miura. However, for some reason the team was unsuccessful even against modest Asian opponents like China and Indonesia. The most visible problem was poor coordination in midfield, but much of the blame for poor team cohesion has to be laid at the door of the coach. Nevertheless, Yokoyama managed to keep his job even after an unsuccessful WC1990 qualifying campaign and then a string of scoreless losses in 1990. By the end of 1990, however, it was clear that Japan needed a change, and for the first time since the 1960s, they looked for help from overseas.


Japan Nat'l Team 1986-92

Date Score Opponent Goals by . . .
86.3.3 (Ishii appointed)
86.5.11 (2-1) Algeria (Hashiratani 2)
86.5.14 (0-2) Bremen  
86.5.16 (1-2) Palmeiras (K.Kimura)
86.7.25 (2-1) Syria (?)
86.7.27 (4-2) China (?)
86.8.1 (1-2) Malaysia (?)
86.9.8 (0-3) Sao Paulo  
86.9.20 (5-0) Nepal (Tsunami, K.Kimura 2, Hara2)
86.9.22 (0-2) Iran  
86.9.24 (0-2) Kuwait  
86.9.28 (4-0) Bangladesh  
87.4.8 (3-0) Indonesia (Hara, Tezuka, Takeda)
87.4.12 (1-0) Singapore (Y.Matsuyama)
87.5.24 (0-0) Fluminense  
87.5.27 (2-0) Senegal (Hara, Y.Matsuyama)
87.5.29 (0-1) Torino  
87.6.14 (1-0) Singapore (Mizunuma)
87.6.26 (2-1) Indonesia (Hara, Y.Matsuyama)
87.9.2 (0-0) Thailand  
87.9.15 (5-0) Nepal (Okudera, Tezuka, H.Kato, Matsuura, Y.Matsuyama)
87.9.18 (9-0) Nepal (Matsuura3, Kaneko, Hara3, H.Kato, Echigo)
87.9.26 (1-0) Thailand (Mizunuma)
87.10.4 (1-0) China (Hara)
87.10.26 (0-2) China  
  (Ishii fired)
  (Yokoyama appointed)
88.5.29 (1-3) Flamengo (Yoshida)
88.6.2 (0-3) China  
88.6.6 (0-1) Bayer Leverkusen  
88.9.8 (0-1) Argentina  
88.9.13 (2-2) USSR (Hashiratani, Hara)
88.12.4 (0-0) Iran  
88.12.6 (0-2) S.Korea  
88.12.10 (0-1) UAE  
88.12.12 (0-3) Qatar  
89.5.5 (0-1) S.Korea  
89.5.10 (2-2) China (Kajino, Maeda)
89.5.13 (2-0) China (Yoshida, Maeda)
89.5.21 (0-0) Hong Kong  
89.5.28 (0-0) Indonesia  
89.6.4 (2-1) N.Korea (Mizunuma, own goal)
89.6.11 (5-0) Indonesia (Horiike, Maeda, Shinto, Hasegawa, Kurosaki)
89.6.18 (0-0) Hong Kong  
89.6.25 (0-2) N.Korea  
89.7.23 (0-1) Brazil  
89.8.4 (1-3) Everton (Mizunuma)
89.8.7 (0-1) Manchester United  
89.8.10 (0-0) Boca Juniors  
89.8.13 (0-1) Boca Juniors  
90.7.27 (0-1) S.Korea  
90.7.29 (0-1) China  
90.7.31 (0-1) N.Korea  
90.9.26 (3-0) Bangladesh (Nagashima, Hara2)
90.9.28 (0-2) Saudi Arabia  
90.10.1 (0-1) Iran  
91.6.2 (1-0) Thailand (Hashiratani)
91.6.5 (2-1) Vasco da Gama (Kitazawa, Kazu)
91.6.9 (4-0) Tottenham (Kitazawa, Kazu2, Sakakura)
91.7.18 (1-1) Partizan Beograd (Hashiratani)
91.7.20 (0-1) Partizan Beograd  
91.7.27 (0-1) S.Korea  
92.3.9 (Yokoyama fired.)