Euro 2020 Special

World Cup 2022: The Samurais Plan to Slice and Dice the Weakened Lions

Japan vs Myanmar

Japan aim to strengthen their hold at the top spot when they host Myanmar for their sixth group stage match of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers.

The COVID-19 pandemic restricted the Asian Qualifiers to just a handful of games since November 2019. But after a long wait, the stage is set for the matches to continue as the race for next year’s showcase reaches its climax.

The Samurai Blue lead Group F with 15 points, while Tajikistan are second with 10 points and Kyrgyzstan are third with seven points. Myanmar are at fourth with six points while Mongolia are last with five.

Japan are almost guaranteed to move into the next round since they’re the outright leaders of Group F with two games left and a win over Myanmar will extend their unblemished record.

Meanwhile, Myanmar are keen to build on their momentum since they were on a two-game win streak and a victory here would cause a huge upset.

Talking Points

Japan are coasting in Group F

Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu is eyeing a strong record when they host Myanmar in World Cup 2022
Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu coaches from the touchline

Team manager Hajime Moriyasu has a squad filled with topnotch players, which is why they are coming into this match with a ton of confidence.

10 J.League players were added in the lineup and they will be flanked by numerous European-based players in order for them to further assert their dominance in Group F.

Prior to their international hiatus, the Samurai Blue were banging in form as they are riding on a two-game winning streak. They’ve beaten South Korea in their international friendly and they walloped Mongolia in their last World Cup 2022 qualifiers match.

The said game versus Mongolia ended with a 14-0 tally as the Japanese ran riot with nine players creating World Cup 2022 highlights.

Leading the way was Werder Bremen forward Yuya Osako as he scored a hat-trick, while he was joined by the likes of Sho Inagaki, Kyogo Furuhashi, and Junya Ito – who all notched a brace.

All of them will give Myanmar’s defence headaches, but the spotlight should remain on the duo of Takefusa Kubo and Takumi Minamino.

Kubo and Minamino have played sparingly for their mother clubs this term, and both are eager to give their bosses something to think about next season via a solid campaign here in the qualifying.

Meanwhile, Ritsu Doan will make his much-awaited return for the Japanese. The midfielder known as Japanese Messi was held out previously as Arminia Bielefeld didn’t allow him to play, but now he has full clearance to join the Samurai Blue.

Myanmar’s problems go beyond the field

Myanmar have yet to confirm their full lineup in the upcoming games since some of their top players are refusing to play under the military regime.

Defender Zaw Min Tin, goalkeeper Kyaw Zin Htet, and strikers Aung Thu and Kyaw Ko Ko are dropping out of the team – leaving the Asian Lions in a major disadvantage against the Japanese this weekend.

Civil unrest has been a recurring theme over these last few months with Aung San Suu Kyi ousted last February. Around 700 people were killed by security forces in Myanmar during protests against the takeover.

“We won’t play for the national team under the military dictatorship and we are protesting to send that message,” said Kyaw Zin Htet during a protest by footballers in Yangon.

Team manager Antoine Hey has no choice but to lead a handicapped Myanmar team in these next few games. And with the Asian Lions virtually out of the running for 2022, they may have to turn their focus in trying to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.


This Friday marks the second time ever that Japan and Myanmar square off in a competitive international setup.

These clubs first met last September 2019 when Japan kickstarted their World Cup 2022 qualifiers campaign with a dominating win against Myanmar via a scoreline of 2-0.

Al Ain FC winger Shoya Nakajima drew first blood in the 16th minute and it was followed up by a solid effort by Southampton forward Takumi Minamino 10 minutes later.

The Samurai Blue are four-time champions in Asia, making them the overwhelming favourites by the World Cup 2022 odds here at SBOTOP to book one of the coveted Asian spots for next year’s showcase.

On the other hand, Myanmar have yet to go past the World Cup qualifiers, Their first appearance of the tournament dates back to 2007.

Myanmar were once feared in Southeast Asia when they were still known as Burma. They had a golden age that spanned from the 1950’s to 1970’s, but persistent political problems eventually ruined their reign. Since being renamed from Burma to Myanmar, the Asian Lions’ highest achievement up to date is winning silver at the 1993 SEA Games.