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 . . .|
|86.9.20||(5-0)||Nepal||(Tsunami, K.Kimura 2, Hara2)|
|87.4.8||(3-0)||Indonesia||(Hara, Tezuka, Takeda)|
|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)|
|89.6.4||(2-1)||N.Korea||(Mizunuma, own goal)|
|89.6.11||(5-0)||Indonesia||(Horiike, Maeda, Shinto, Hasegawa, Kurosaki)|
|91.6.5||(2-1)||Vasco da Gama||(Kitazawa, Kazu)|
|91.6.9||(4-0)||Tottenham||(Kitazawa, Kazu2, Sakakura)|