By Milos Kosic
Japan’s World Cup dreams are over after a defeat again Paraguay on Tuesday. In an uninteresting game, where both sides were unable to score for 120 minutes, the winner was decided after a penalty shootout.
Not many things will be remembered about the game. There were some good moves (especially Matsui’s long-distance shot that hit the crossbar), but both teams seemed afraid to attack. Paraguay had more dangerous opportunities, but Japan’s goalkeeper Kawashima kept his net safe.
Photo from fOTOGLIF
The penalty shootout was the only dramatic point in the game. The player to miss a penalty was Yuichi Komano, whose too high shot bounced off the crossbar. After that, Oscar Cardozo sent the ball very coolly into the net, taking Paraguay to the quarter finals for the first time in history.
Although Japanese fans are probably disappointed after being so close to progressing into the next round, they should not be unhappy with their team’s performance in the World Cup. The Blue Samurais managed to get out of a strong group, leaving behind Denmark and Cameroon, and winning two games. The only other time when they went into the knockout stage was in 2002, as a host country.
After the defeat, Japan’s head coach Takehis Okada said that he is planning to resign, a good news for many fans in Japan who dislike Okada’s defensive tactics. The Blue Samurais should now turn to the future, choose a coach who prefer more aggressive soccer and start preparing for 2014.