Japan team’s 0-0 World Cup draw dismays fans watching from Tokyo

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Japanese soccer fans roared in frustration Friday morning after the national team ended its crucial match with Greece with an underwhelming 0-0 draw, making its advance to the second stage of the World Cup highly unlikely, though not impossible.

A crowd of 200 avid Samurai Blue supporters, mostly office workers, gathered at a public viewing space set up in the Marunouchi Building near Tokyo Station before reporting for work, and another 150 fans in suits massed outside to watch through the windows, while a bar inside was packed to capacity with 180 customers.

“I think Greece did a fantastic job in keeping its defense strong,” said a crestfallen Hiroyuki Miyamoto, 25, as he reflected on what was supposed to be a much-anticipated victory.

Businessman Tamotsu Motohashi, 48, described the loss as an “extreme disappointment.”

Japan outnumbered Greece after team captain Konstantinos Katsouranis received a red card 38 minutes into the first half. But Motohashi said Japan failed to capitalize on its advantage.

“I think Japan maintained its aggressiveness slightly better than during its previous match with Cote d’Ivoire, but it still couldn’t be as offense-minded as it should’ve been,” Motohashi said. Cote d’Ivoire beat Japan 2-1.

Throughout the game, Japan controlled possession, and there were several moments when it almost looked like it had scored. Each time, the crowd burst into spasms of joy, only to groan after realizing Japan had missed.

“There were lots of occasions where they could’ve made a goal, but they appeared to struggle in the face of the overwhelming height of Greek players,” said Kyosuke Kanbe, a 26-year-old man who had taken the day off from his job to watch the match.

Although pessimism appeared to prevail, 35-year-old fan Mariko Konno remained upbeat.

“My colleagues would teasingly tell me that Japan is destined to lose,” she said. “It didn’t lose. So I’m glad the team proved them wrong.” Konno said proudly before hurrying off to work.

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  • Kazuhiro Shino

    I left Japan 1988 since then very little to connect my country one of those are Olympic & sports competitions I’ve watched Japan – Greece game in London with full of positive expectation but the game was shamble clumsy no conviction rubbish only after Kagawa appeared few kind of promising moments but nothing good has happened after all BBC post game presenters were mocking the way Japan played is added spice on my anger & disappointment Japan must thinks & learn something from the game,10 men Greece had better scoring chances even laughable defense & unimaginative attacking are Japanese traditional habits even so 4 shots on target under 74% wasteful ball possession missing less than 3m shots are unforgivable. Top teams are very good players who is playing the ball but also players who are not playing the balls positioning clinical accuracy I hope once in my lifetime Japan reaches the world cup final & …………..

  • GBR48

    I think the Japanese fans are being a little too polite here. Yes, Japan lacked penetration, but as the BBC match commentators, Jonathan Pearce and ex-Arsenal defender Martin Keown pointed out several times, after sending off a Greek player, the referee gave almost every decision in favour of the Greeks. A team determined to suffocate a game and earn a draw find it much easier to do that, if they can break up every attacking move by simply hitting the deck and getting a free kick, and take down the opposition with a surprising degree of impunity.

    In response to Kazuhiro Shino’s post, the quality of post-match punditry on the BBC tends to decline rapidly after midnight, particularly if the guests are not regulars on TV.

    The refereeing in many of the World Cup games has been down to its usual standard of hopelessly abysmal, but then FIFA are hardly shining lights when it comes to ethicality and competency.

    At least Japan showed spirit in their second game. After some crisp passing against Italy, England played like a tactically-inept pub side against Uruguay and deserved to be dumped out. We are now used to this particular form of national embarrassment, as it happens regularly.