‘I’m very proud of Japan’: Fans hail Samurai Blue’s courage despite Croatia penalty heartache at World Cup

AL WAKRAH, Qatar: The pain was still palpable, the defeat still raw.

Speaking to CNA after Japan’s painful penalty shootout defeat to Croatia, Samurai Blue fan Kanako Koni took a moment to compose herself.

“I think they played a good game …. against a team that was runners-up at the last World Cup,” she said.

“This was a good match and there was fighting spirit from Japan,” added Japan supporter Ikeda Seeichiro.

At Al Janoub Stadium on Monday (Dec 5), Hajime Moriyasu’s men fell to wily campaigners Croatia, losing 3-1 on penalties.

Spot kicks by Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida were all kept out by Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic. The Croatians would go on to seal the victory when Mario Pasalic sent Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda the wrong way.

The match had ended 1-1, with Daizen Maeda giving Japan a first-half lead, before Ivan Perisic equalised for Croatia early in the second half.

“I feel a little bit sorry, a little sad. But football is football,” said Mr Seeichiro.

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