"It was not just defeat it was also passion and the eyes wet. Yuichi Komano made a slow, sad walk through the mixed zone, looking as if he'd let a whole nation down while fans watched a man who gave and his team everything for two hours, then sees all that effort melt away in the instant that a round piece of plastic hurtles into a metal pipe."
Comments of the press in Japan are numerous to congratulate their team who made it to the 16: "Despite defeat in World Cup, Japan's soccer style taking shape" the Mainichi shimbun writes.
VDO: The PKs':
The 2010 World Cup round 16 soccer match between Paraguay and Japan was kicked off on yesterday, on June 29, 2010 at Loftus Versefeld Stadium, Pretoria.
In this match, Paraguay defeated Japan by 5-3. With this win, Paraguay secured their berth in quarter finals. Supporters in Tokyo were united in hoping that the only Asian side remaining in the tournament would reach the quarter-finals to become Japan's most successful World Cup side ever.
"Surprised the world; endured a grueling 120 minutes," the Asahi Shimbun headlined, praising a fighting Blue Samurai team who eventually lost 5-3 on penalties after 30 minutes of scoreless extra-time against Paraguay.
Substitute Oscar Cardozo scored the decisive spot-kick at the Loftus Versfeld stadium after Japan's Yuichi Komano had smashed his penalty against the crossbar. Yomiuri Shimbun declared that "bravery will be remembered", daring readers to dream "for four years' time" when the 2014 World Cup is staged in Brazil.
Television networks aired telephone interviews with Japanese players' proud mothers, emotional grandparents and former high-school coaches who watched the game in South Africa or at home in Japan. This time around, the Blue Samurai's strong showing surprised many at home and defied the low expectations of fans more familiar with Japan's previously timid performances. "Japan has finally begun its battle on the world stage," the Yomiuri said. "This experience surely will become the flesh and blood of Japanese football. It was a precious 120 minutes," according to the Asahi Shimbun. The performance prompted a fickle public to heap praise on head coach Takeshi Okada, who has gone from much-maligned zero to hero over the course of four football matches. Blogging sites such as Twitter turn red hot all night in Japan with tons of comments about the game.
Japanese TV stations were also upbeat about the Samurais, who many in the country had forecast to drop out of the first round before their unexpected victory against Cameroon in their opening match,then against Denmark in extraordinary game and magnificent 3 goals, including the 27 meters shoot of Endo scoring the second goal as a king of the field.
Sources: Asahi, Yomiuri, Mainichi, agencies, Reporter's notes.