Japan and Uruguay will return to the field for the first time since their respective 2022 World Cup campaigns on Friday, with the two teams set to lock horns in a friendly encounter.
Uruguay failed to make it out of the group stage in Qatar, but Japan progressed to the last-16 stage of the tournament, ultimately losing to Croatia on penalties following a 1-1 draw.
Japan were hugely impressive in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, progressing to the knockout round of the competition, beating both Germany and Spain en route to the final 16.
Samurai Blue took the lead against Croatia in their knockout round contest, but the match ultimately finished 1-1, with Croatia triumphing 3-1 on penalties to progress to the final eight of the competition.
It was a big step forward for Japan, though, with the national team looking to a bright future, but their immediate focus is on back-to-back friendlies against Uruguay and Colombia.
Head coach Hajime Moriyasu has actually made a host of changes to his squad for the upcoming fixtures, with a number of players set to be given opportunities to earn a regular spot moving forward.
Japan have only ever met Uruguay on eight occasions, winning twice and losing four times, with their last friendly coming in October 2018, when Samurai Blue recorded a 4-3 victory over their South American opponents.
Uruguay picked up four points from their three group matches at the 2022 World Cup, but it was not enough for them to progress to the knockout round of the competition.
The national team’s last match was the 2-0 victory over Ghana on December 2, and they now have back-to-back games against Japan and South Korea on March 24 and March 28 respectively.
Uruguay are yet to appoint a permanent replacement for Diego Alonso, who left the managerial position after the World Cup, but Marcelo Broli, who is the current manager of Uruguay Under-20s, will lead the team for their next two matches.
There is certainly a fresh look about the current squad, with Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani among those not involved, meaning that there are now spots open in the final third of the field.
The Sky Blues will be expecting to make a strong impression at the 2024 Copa America before switching their attention to the next World Cup, which will take place in 2026.