Japan’s soccer fans despondent

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Groggy fans reacted with sadness early Wednesday after watching the national team exit soccer’s World Cup, some deciding to numb the pain after the horror show with one more drink.

Having watched Samurai Blue get crushed 4-1 by a rampant Colombia, it was little wonder that blue-clad fans who had been drinking all night opted to have another for the road.

“Why, why, why?” wailed sales assistant Mami Shibata, 24, slumped on the floor with her face poking over the top of a table at a Tokyo bar. “I’ve had enough of the World Cup.”

Her exasperation was shared by many following the match, which kicked off at 5 a.m. Japan time.

“Let’s be honest, it was like boys against men,” said computer programmer Akinori Higashi, 40. “Colombia were so quick and strong, the Japanese players just bounced off them. They were too good.”

“The difference between the teams’ levels was too big,” said Kaori Otani, a 21-year-old college student from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, who was with about 15 other supporters at a coffee bar in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo. “That was just too bad.”

Some of the group’s members, hoping for a favorable result until the final whistle, shouted “there’s still a chance!” each time Colombia scored a goal.

Once the game ended, however, Samurai Blue supporters in the Shibuya bar fell silent.

Still, a 40-year-old company worker from Higashikurume, western Tokyo, said the spirit exhibited by the team during Wednesday’s match raised his hopes for success in the future.

“I hope the players will further their potential in order to compete at the world’s highest level and produce better results in the competition in four years,” he said.

Hundreds of fans watched the game at public viewing spaces across Japan.

“I don’t know whom I should cheer on, now that Japan has lost,” 63-year-old Michiko Adachi said in Izumi Ward, Osaka, where about 130 supporters gathered to cheer for Yoichiro Kakitani, a 24-year old native of the city, who entered the game as a replacement in the 69th minute.

In Kobe’s Nishi Ward, 65 members of the soccer club at Takigawa Second High School, the alma mater of forward Shinji Okazaki, reacted with delight as the 28-year-old player scored an equalizer at the end of the first half.

“It was a down-to-earth play typical of Okazaki,” said 18-year-old Shotaro Kuramoto after Okazaki headed in the goal.

An air of disbelief prevailed among supporters who took to the streets in Osaka’s Minami district before the start of the game, which was Japan’s last chance to advance to the next stage of the tournament.

Out of about 450 fans who gathered at a public viewing space near the Dotonbori Canal, dozens climbed up the parapet of the Ebisu Bridge to jump into the water below.

“I’m now awake, and I can attend my classes,” said a 20-year-old male college student, who was soaking wet after taking the plunge.

Even Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed dissatisfaction over Japan’s group-stage elimination.

“It’s disappointing,” he told reporters at his office after watching the game on TV. Japan finished last in Group C with two losses and a draw.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga made similar comments during a daily press briefing, saying the outcome was not what he expected.

“It’s a huge disappointment,” he told reporters. “My predictions were way off. Italy and England also went out. I’d like to say thank you to the Japan players and coaching staff.

“Japan had many good shots, but just didn’t score enough,” he continued. “The outcome tells us how hard it is for any team to get past the group stage.”

  • Daniel Francis

    The price they pay for forgetting IT’S JUST A GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • papcam

    remember: Japan 11 won 4:1 at Hamburg (-Germany). Followed by excellent games next years. This days it looks like they where tired and taktik was not very efficient (non reachable kicks into 16m area). There are very efficient japanese ! Trainers (Nadeshdas excellent Trainer).
    Jho Kaufmann