The face of defeat was red, the eyes wet, the gaze downcast. Yuichi Komano made a slow, sad walk through a media gauntlet behind Loftus Versfeld Stadium known as the Mixed Zone.
But there was nothing mixed about his emotions. Komano was distraught, a Blue Samurai too blue to speak, looking as if he’d let a whole nation down.
The Japanese defender’s penalty kick against Paraguay slammed off the crossbar, the only miss in the 2010 World Cup’s first overtime shootout. The South Americans advanced to the quarterfinal, 5-3 on PKs, their Cinderella story intact, while Japan’s wonderful run was halted by mere inches.
Read the rest of the story: Japan gave its nation reason to cheer
Japan coach Takeshi Okada thinks reaching a first ever World Cup quarterfinal with victory over Paraguay on Tuesday would be an important step in developing football in his country.
“For the football community of Japan, it would be very bright, wonderful news and encouraging if we advanced,” Okada said Monday through a translator. “Japan’s aim of becoming one of the world-class teams would be one step closer if we can qualify for the last eight for the first time.
“The World Cup is a very good measurement to estimate the level of a nation at this time and we’ve come so far, not only to our credit, but to the credit of footballing community of Japan as a whole.”
Read the rest of the story: Paraguay, Japan chase first WCup quarterfinal