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Why Japan never should’ve been underestimated at Qatar 2022

Japan escaped Qatar’s group of death, and their upsets against Spain and Germany have turned people’s expectations on their heads in the last couple of weeks.

It is not just on the pitch where Japan have impressed though, it is off it. Japan’s fans have been cleaning up stadiums even after losses, but they don’t want to be the ‘good losers’ anymore.

They faced Croatia in the round of 16, and the Blue Samurai had never looked more threatening going into the game, but after a valiant effort came up short on penalties.

They have been the comeback kings of this World Cup, with manager Hajime Moriyasu inspiring some of the most unlikely of turnarounds with his inspiring impact substitutions.

Still, it has been a World Cup to remember for the Blue Samurai – but just how did Moriyasu’s men do their country proud?

Firstly, Japan are a collective. They are very composed, controlled and systematic. The Japanese culture evolves around being part of a system with no reliance on one person, but on one another.

When you add a bit of quality, hardwork and an inspired team talk to this, you edge out calculated wins against four times winners Germany.

You would probably expect me to talk about some of Japan’s well-known players, the likes of Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu, or Takumi Minamino, who has impressed in Europe. Former Real Madrid player Takefusa Kubo was even dubbed as ‘the next Messi’ in his teenage years.

But no, Japan doesn’t have massive egos, and they work as if at a factory, where everybody specialises in their own job, and that’s it.

When defending, the team is well-drilled, and everybody knows their place. The Japanese defend with maturity and experience.

This stability built from the back continues into midfield, where the team have consistently neat passing patterns. This lacks individual flair, but the team is finally getting recognition in Qatar for getting the basics bang on.

There is a lack of individual flair, but it isn’t completely muted. We saw this flair against Germany and Spain this World Cup, creating special memories for former player and coach Hajime Moriyasu, his team, and the fans.

The progress under Moriyasu shows that if a team is selfless, and clear orders to follow, they can undoubtably go further than teams with a lot more quality on paper.

It will be interesting to see how Japan continue to develop as they bring more talent through their big pool of players.

In conclusion, the Japanese have a culture of selflessness and hard work, and this has translated onto the football pitch in Qatar, causing upsets that we are all here to see!

The team have echoed the fans, who are admired tournament after tournament for clearing away waste, even after a loss. England fans could take notes…



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