RIFU, Miyagi Pref. — A single goal put an end to Japan’s World Cup campaign but the way it was conceded is likely to haunt the cohost for a long time.

The Japanese defenders have been hugely impressive in this tournament so far, but a brief lapse in concentration cost them dearly.

Turkish and AC Milan midfielder Umit Davala rose unchallenged to meet a corner and nodded the ball into the net to earn Turkey a 1-0 victory in the Round of 16 on Tuesday at Miyagi Stadium.

“After giving away the ball to our opponents, I was telling our teammates and myself to concentrate more on the play at the time,” said Japan captain and central defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto.

“But a fast ball was knocked into a dangerous place in the area and to tell you the truth, we did not pay enough attention to the man,” he added.

“The goal we gave away is symbolic of the lack of concentration of our team,” added Japanese playmaker Hidetoshi Nakata.

“After that the Turks played so defensively and wouldn’t allow us to get many shots in. I wish we could have attacked from the flanks more,” the Parma midfielder lamented.

Turkey’s move started after a stray pass from Kashima Antlers defender Koji Nakata was cleared for a corner by Miyamoto.

Miyamoto said the way Japan gave away the goal was disappointing as the backline was not pierced from open play.

“That’s why it’s so regrettable,” the Gamba Osaka defender said. “We’ve had a good defense so far in the tournament. We built our defense around (Japan coach Philippe) Troussier’s tactics and have applied ourselves flexibly in every situation.”

Miyamoto is not so tall as a defender — standing at just 176 cm — but he is known for his ability to read a situation and his strong leadership in Troussier’s “flat-three” backline. As a result, the 25-year-old has been one of the players who has been trusted implicitly by his French boss.

Tuesday’s game was his 15th appearance for Japan and he’s enjoyed a good World Cup finals, also earning the nickname “Batman” due to the black mask he has worn to protect a broken nose.

“Yes, it was a hard moment for me,” Miyamoto said. “I knew I should reflect on the goals given away on set plays. Apart from that, I just tell myself to believe in what I’ve done and to keep my confidence.”

Troussier praised his captain, saying: “My defense was wonderful. They dealt well with various situations.”

Japan midfielder Junichi Inamoto, who was substituted in the game, said: “We are definitely not happy about going out like this. We didn’t panic after they scored but we just didn’t create enough chances in attack.”

But Miyamoto looked to a positive future: “Our team has been a cohesive force, even including those who play abroad. Since we’ve worked so hard up to now, it’s a shame to see this team disbanded now but I think Troussier has brought us a lot. The players have grown up a lot and there is much to hand over to the next national team.”

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