Japan’s team, which bowed out in the group stage of the ongoing World Cup without winning a match, was greeted by about 1,000 well-wishers after arriving at Narita airport on Friday.
Cheers rang out from the crowd as Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni and his players, all of them dressed in suits, appeared looking stone-faced from the terminal gate. One of the signs held up by child read, “Thank you for the dreams!”
“The younger players will probably be going overseas to play. I’d like them to become the core players in four years,” said Harujun Nunome, a university student from Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.
Japan finished bottom of Group C at the World Cup with just one point after two losses and a draw. Zaccheroni later said he will step down as manager.
“I wanted to let them know that we know that they all made their best effort,” said Masako Hoshina, a company employee from Narita, Chiba Prefecture.