Former Japan captain Tsuneyasu Miyatomo believes the national team has a bright future.
Indeed, the ex-Gamba Osaka star believes winning a World Cup within the next 20 years is within Japan’s reach following the rapid development of the sport at all levels.
“If we manage to qualify, I think our team could reach the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals,” he said in an interview with FIFA.com.
“It’s good that we’re playing in the Confederations Cup this year, as it’ll be an excellent yardstick to see where we’re at as a team, and in particular to assess the progress of our younger players.
“Football in Japan has progressed incredibly. Currently there’s fantastic work being done at grassroots level and I think we’re reaping the rewards of the 2002 World Cup, which had a huge impact on my country.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large number of Japanese players at big European clubs in the next 10 years.
“The fact that a high number of matches from European leagues are currently widely available on television has contributed to football’s increasing popularity in Japan.”
The former Red Bull Salzburg defender studying the FIFA Master program, which he believes has given him a much more profound understanding of the game.
“I learned a great deal in the areas of humanities, management and law in sport,” he said.
“It’s something I’d definitely recommend to other footballers. As a player you learn a lot about being out on the pitch, but management and law are subjects that require a special kind of education.
“In general I think our sport is going through a tough time financially, which is why I believe having a quality education in the areas of management and marketing is fundamental.
“As a captain of Japan I saw and learned many things on the pitch. Now I would like to put them into practice off it.”