On Air

Alex Lester



19th June 
Colombia 1-2 Japan

24th June
Japan 2-2 Senegal

28th June
Japan 0-1 Poland

2nd July
Belgium 3-2 Japan

Flag: Ah, the classic Hinomaru. White with a big red disk in the middle. Is there a better flag?

Population: 127 million.

Nickname: サムライ・ブルー. That’s "Samurai Blue", apparently.

Manager: The head coach is Akira Nishino who played 12 times for Japan in the 1970s. He took over from Vahid Halilhodzic who was sacked in April despite seeing Japan to their sixth straight finals appearance.

Captain: Eintracht Frankfurt’s defensive midfielder Makoto Hasebe.

Star Man: Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa. The former Manchester United star is still only 29. How long has he been around? Southampton defender Maya Yoshida will also be central to Japan’s chances of progressing.

Rising Star: Keep an eye out for exciting 21-year-old midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi. He plays his club football for Leonesa in the Spanish second tier but there will a queue for his services if he turns it on in Russia.