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In the end, national team manager Takeshi Okada got neither the semifinal he craved nor the quarterfinal that looked there for the taking. When the dust settles on Japan’s 2010 World Cup campaign, however, the overall feeling will be one of pride rather than regret.

Okada’s men are on their way home after losing on penalties to Paraguay on Tuesday, but their contribution to the tournament has been positive. The 3-1 first-round win over Denmark will live long in the memory not only for Japanese fans, but for everyone who witnessed that hugely impressive performance in Rustenburg.

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