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Date: 1/6/2019

Coach: Dagur Sigurdsson

Key Players: Yuto Agarie (Centre back), Shinnosuke Tokuda (Right back), Jin Watanabe (Right back/wing)


Qualification Information: Wild card


History in Tournament: 1954, 1958: DNQ, 1961: 12th, 1964: 16th, 1967: 11th, 1970: 10th, 1974: 12th, 1978: 12th, 1982: 14th, 1986: DNQ, 1990: 15th, 1993: DNQ, 1995: 23rd, 1997: 15th, 1999-2003: DNQ, 2005: 16th, 2007-2009: DNQ, 2011: 16th, 2013-2015: DNQ, 2017: 22nd


Japan were confirmed as participants for Germany/Denmark 2019 back in May, after being awarded a wild card by the IHF as no Oceania team ranked fifth or higher at the 2018 Asian Championship, in Jakarta (Indonsesia).


While a 10th place finish appears, on paper, to look like their best-ever result at a Men’s World Championship, the position, back in 1970 in France was when the tournament featured just 16 teams.


A 15th place finish in 1997 on home territory – the only time up to that point that a World Championship had been held outside of Europe – is somewhat better as the tournament by then had expanded to 24 teams but Japan did not build on that result, going the next three editions without qualifying and only making just three of the subsequent 10 tournaments.


Looking to improve on their recent World Championship history is Japan’s head coach Dagur Sigurdsson. The Icelander became head coach after Antonio Carlos Ortega Perez led the team to a disappointing 22nd-place finish at France 2017, and with the 2020 Olympic Games being held in Tokyo and the host nation having a guaranteed spot, Sigurdsson was tasked with ensuring the side perform to their potential in under two years and Germany/Denmark 2019 provides one of the last opportunities to test his team in an ultra-competitive, global tournament.


45-year-old Sigurdsson will relish going up against fellow countryman Aron Kristjansson and his Bahrain team, as well as Iceland, in their final group B matches in Munich, with their campaign starting against the Macedonians.


Sigurdsson played and briefly coached in Japan from 2000-2003 when he was with Wakunaga Hiroshima, before he returned in 2003 to Europe, ending his playing career – and starting his coaching career – with A1 Bregenz in Austria. He then moved to coach the Austrian national team (2008-2010) before taking over Bundesliga team Füchse Berlin (2009-2015), and then the German national team which he sensationally led to EURO 2016 gold in Poland. After that continental success he then headed to Tokyo to get involved with the 2020 project.


Helping Sigurdsson to achieve his goals are key players; centre back Yuto Agarie, right back or right wing Jin Watanabe and one of the most exciting players to come out of Japan in recent years, right back Shinnosuke Tokuda, who plays his club handball in Hungary, for Dabas VSE KC – one of an increasing number of Japanese players leaving their home to play abroad.


To prepare for Germany/Denmark, Japan held training camps in December and January and participated in the ‘4 Nations Cup’ which was held in Opole (Poland) and featured Czech Republic, Romania and host nation Poland. This weekend (5/6 January 2019) they are taking part in the Yellow Cup in Winterthur, which features Portugal, Tunisia and hosts Switzerland.


Follow Japan at Germany/Denmark 2019 through their official website.


Group at Germany/Denmark 2019

Group B: Spain, Croatia, FYR Macedonia, Iceland, Bahrain, Japan


Games at Germany/Denmark 2019

All times local


Friday 11 January             Japan vs FYR Macedonia (15:30)

Sunday 13 January           Croatia vs Japan (14:00)

Monday 14 January         Spain vs Japan (20:30)

Wednesday 16 January Japan vs Iceland (15:30)

Thursday 17 January       Bahrain vs Japan (15:30)


IHF & Germany/Denmark 2019 Official Channels

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Photo: Japan Handball Association