Japan's Impressive World Cup Run Encourages Fans across Nation

Sports Society

Al Wakrah, Qatar, Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--Japan's failure to reach the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar following its penalty shootout loss to Croatia in the first round of the knockout stage left fans stunned, but the national team's impressive run in the hugely popular soccer tournament encouraged many across the East Asian country.

Al Janoub Stadium was packed with fans from around the world as Japan, which reached the round of 16 for the fourth time, faced off against Croatia on Monday in the hope of making it to the final eight.

Japan's Daizen Maeda scored the first goal of the match in the 43rd minute of the first half, but the Croatian side made it even in the 10th minute of the second half, sending the match into overtime. After the extra 30 minutes failed to produce a winner, the two sides battled in a penalty shootout, where Croatia emerged victorious 3-1.

Fans of both sides chanted throughout the match, and Japanese supporters shouted "Nippon," or Japan, and "Gonda," the family name of Japan's goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, during the shootout. However, their cheers were in vain.

Momoko Kawatsura, 32, a corporate worker from Tokyo's Minato Ward, could not hold back her tears after the match, saying how Japan was "only one step away" from topping Croatia.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press