After perhaps the most unconventional, daunting and frustrating qualifying campaign in team history, Samurai Blue have qualified for a seventh straight FIFA World Cup and have a chance to once again test Japan’s might against soccer’s elite.

Thursday night’s rain-soaked 2-0 victory over Australia was emblematic of the kind of results this Japan side has achieved over the past six months in Group B of Asia’s third and final qualifying round.

Despite head coach Hajime Moriyasu’s men looking superior both on paper and on the pitch, the grueling affair in Sydney seemed almost destined to end in a scoreless draw until late substitute Kaoru Mitoma instantly turned the game on its head with a pair of goals in his 10-minute appearance.