Japan wins count for nothing: 'We didn't change history'

Forward Ritsu Doan said Japan's historic World Cup wins over Germany and Spain counted for nothing after the Blue Samurai were eliminated by Croatia in the last 16 on Monday.

Japan missed out on a first-ever place in the quarterfinals after a 3-1 penalty shootout defeat to the Croatians, following a grueling encounter that finished 1-1 after overtime.

Japan beat both Germany and Spain in the group stage in Qatar, but Doan took no consolation from his team's achievements.

"I expected someone to say that if we lost, but to be honest it doesn't mean anything," he said. "No matter how well we fought today, we didn't change history."

Daizen Maeda gave Japan the lead late in the first half before Ivan Perisic leveled for Croatia 10 minutes after the break.

Japan struggled to create more chances but held for penalties, only for Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic to save their first two spot kicks. Croatia's Marko Livaja hit the post to give Japan a reprieve but Livakovic saved Maya Yoshida's kick to give Mario Pasalic match point for the Europeans.

Pasalic buried his penalty to send Croatia through, leaving Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu to lament his players' failure to convert their spot-kicks.

"Penalties are a mix of luck and training," he said. "Their goalkeeper was excellent but the Japanese players should have done better and that's something we need to work on in the future."

Japan was aiming to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, having lost in the last 16 at three previous World Cups.

The team arrived in Qatar with 19 Europe-based players in their squad and midfielder Wataru Endo said they would need more overseas experience to take the next step.

"We need to have more players playing with European clubs -- we need 20 or 30," he said. "We can improve our quality and become a better team. We are improving but we weren't good enough to get to the quarter-finals."

Moriyasu is also confident that Japan will return stronger.

"This result doesn't cancel out everything the players have done here," he said. "They have shown they have the confidence to play at the world level and have shown how good they can be. Japanese football can continue to grow."

amk/jw

© Agence France-Presse

4 comments about "Japan wins count for nothing: 'We didn't change history'".
  1. John Polis, December 6, 2022 at 8:58 a.m.

    Totally understand his disappointment in not making it as far as he wanted, but the team's performance was really quite remarkable. Whoever is responsible for soccer training in Japan (both men and women) must be doing it the right way as both of Japan's national teams have had great success and look very good in competitions. Failing to beat Croatia in penalties (I don't think Croatia has never lost a penalty kick tiebreaker in the World Cup.) is certainly frustrating but it doesn't cancel out a great first round performance. Such disappointment is being expressed about the U.S. team as well right now. The armchair observers who come out of the woodwork every four years to opine on how futile the USA is in soccer are out in full force. I was terribly disappointed to see the USA lose to Holland on three quite obvious, elementary defensive errors, but overall was proud of our team. Lots of questions to answer as we prepare for 2026, but lots to build on going forward.

  2. R2 Dad replied, December 6, 2022 at 6:27 p.m.

    Japanese focus on foot/bal-handling skills and disciplined defense was why Iniesta went to Japan instead of MLS. Better passing vs more running.

  3. Bill Riviere, December 6, 2022 at 7:15 p.m.

    Frank, I'm dead werious.  This is a public forum and FAR from a busy bar scene, at which I've had plenty of conversations about folks that I think are not doing their job.  But I DON'T call them names or disparaging epithets.  I talk about what they aren't doing right in my opinion, which is far different than calling them an idiot, etc.

    This is America and we have a right to express opinions in a respectful way, I agree, but namecalling is totally disrespectful and uncalled for. 

    Social media has loosened up tongues and minds nearly beyond repair and this is a perfect example of it.  Have some respect for someone trying to do their job, but maybe not meeting your own expectations.  Say what you want about what he should do or should have done or didn't do.  Don't label him.  That's what is wrong in our country and on a much more meaningless topic what is happening here.

    Would you look him in the eye and call him an idiot?  If not, don't say it behind his back publicly.  If you would, then that's between the two of you and not for all the readers here.

  4. R2 Dad replied, December 7, 2022 at 9:30 a.m.

    "Bill from the 90's is calling and wants his internet back."
    Believe it or not my real name isn't R2 Dad. I use a pseudonym because I don't want internet trolls doxing me because I have unpopular opinions on soccer and refereeing. I enjoy being modestly provocative, as my real life is super boring--just as I like it. I think SA has done a good job here, giving freedom to paying customers to voice their frustrations. It's usually the same people, using the same salty language. If GB wants to get on here and debate, have at it. I think he is a tad smug and pompous for a coach who has never won anything. Adjectives, subjects and objects may vary.

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