It’s over. With their 1-4 defeat against Colombia, Team Japan is officially out of the World Cup tournament after just three matches. The boys in blue put up a good fight, but arguably left a lot on the pitch in Group C, in what many say was Japan’s best chance to make a big impact on the world stage. But despite the disappointing losses (and one unbelievable tie), there were some truly great moments that came out of the tournament for Samurai Blue. So before we all move on and choose a different team to support, let us take a moment to look back at the matches, the players, and those crazy fans who came together to root on NIPPON!
In their first World Cup match, Japan came out strong against Côte d’Ivoire with Keisuke Honda putting one in the back of the net in the 16th minute. It was all going so well, and anyone watching the game could have guessed that Japan would come out on top. However, two second-half goals scored by Côte d’Ivoire within two minutes sealed Japan’s fate and the team ended with a disappointing 1-2 loss.
Surprisingly, it was what happened off the field that had the world talking. Japanese soccer fans were seen cleaning up after themselves at the stadium, despite the devastating loss.
The next match against Greece wasn’t any better. Despite being up against a 10-man squad after Kostas Katsouranis of Greece was sent off the field upon receiving his second yellow card, Japan still couldn’t manage to score, resulting in a 0-0 tie.
▼ Not even the addition of blue plastic garbage bags to Japan’s cheering section could help the team.
But even with the loss and tie, Japan still had a small chance of making it through to the Round of 16, if only they could pull out a win against Colombia. Even Columbia Records Japan was getting behind Samurai Blue, changing their company name in support of their national team. Many stayed hopeful, but most would say the Japanese didn’t stand a chance against the favored Colombian team.
But it was Japan’s 1-4 loss against the South American squad that gave us possibly the most touching scene of the World Cup. As Japanese defender Yuto Nagatomo sat stunned on the pitch after the match, Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin walked over to offer a few kind words of encouragement.
Seeing two opposing players come together in good sportsmanship and goodwill is the finest an international tournament of this caliber can produce and reminds us all that despite national borders and patriotic passion, we’re not all that different. All these players really want is a chance to represent their country to the best of their ability, and the painful sorrow of falling short, well, that’s a sentiment anyone can sympathize with.
And despite all the heartbreak…
…Samurai Blue brought people together to cheer for the nation of Japan. In Brazil…
…and back at home.
Japan’s national soccer team even inspired some impressive fanart:
And bento…which in a way is fanart:
So now that Team Japan is on its way home, all we can do is give a hearty “Otsukare-sama deshita!” to Kagawa, Honda, and the rest of the gang who worked so hard to make it to Brazil. There’s not much else we can say about this inspirational team, so we’ll let the Dentsu Building in Tokyo have the final word:
▼ “また４年後” (See you in 4 years)
Check out this link:
Otsukare-sama deshita: A look back at Team Japan’s time at the World Cup