Oman stunned Japan in the opening game of the final World Cup qualifying round on Thursday, winning 1-0 thanks to an Issam Al Sabhi goal in the closing minutes.
Japan’s shock home defeat in Group B came after the Samurai Blue dominated the previous rounds, with eight wins from eight.
After a scoreless first half at a rainy Panasonic Stadium in Osaka, the hosts sent on young stars Takefusa Kubo and Ritsu Doan — both joining the national team after playing in the Tokyo Olympics.
But Oman broke through Japan’s defensive line several times and Al Sabhi netted the 88th-minute winner — just a few minutes after coming off the bench.
Japan, Asia’s highest-ranked side, are seeking a seventh straight appearance at the World Cup finals in 2022 in Qatar.
The group also includes Australia, China, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.