People who have traveled and stayed in Japan, and gotten to know the Japanese, can have a lot of things to say about the people’s reputed fastidiousness and adherence to social rituals. If one of them invites a friend to visit their house later, they would try to clean up before the guest’s arrival. During the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia, Team Japan was noted for bowing to their cheering section after every game, and Japanese spectators were in sporting news for staying after game time to clean the stands. These habits became more poignant following Japan’s elimination Monday.
CNN covers the latest media-impressing class act by the Japanese national football team after they were beaten by Belgium in the Round of 16 of the Knockout Stage for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The match was hard fought by the two teams, both of which have never gotten this far in past World Cup tournaments. Japan had already wowed for the fact that it was the only team from the Asian Football Confederation to make knockouts, and scored two goals over Belgium early in game time. However a spirited counterattack led to a shocking reversal. Japan lost at 2-3.
Two actions by Team Japan, nicknamed “Samurai Blue” by international sporting media, would be left in the memories of those who watched that fateful match at Rostov Arena the night of July 2. First, the players did as they routinely do, bowing to the heartbroken Japanese fans at the stands and thanking them for their support thus far. Next, the team went the extra mile at leaving a surprise for their Russian hosts at their designated locker room. On Tuesday, June 3, it was discovered that the Japanese players thoroughly cleaned the locker room to sparkly shininess and left a thank-you note: “спасибо” in Russian.
Japan and Belgium have been making marks on football history for their Round of 16 encounter at the World Cup this year. The former did more so on their first ever match of the tournament in Group H, against Colombia where they won 2-1. This was the country’s first football victory against a team from South America’s CONMEBOL confederation, which has some of the world’s powerhouse football teams like Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
Having lost against Belgium, Japan also became the first nation in 49 years eliminated from a World Cup knockout match after taking a 2-0 lead. The previous time was in the 1970 quarterfinals, with England going 2-0 at the start against Germany, which rallied in extra time to beat the British, 3-2.
Speaking of England, the latest 2018 World Cup development with them is a victory by penalty shootout against Colombia, 1 (4)-1(3) in Tuesday, July 3, to advance to the quarterfinals.
Image courtesy of Japan Today