This is the fourth time in a row since the tournament in France, 1998 for Japan to qualify for the Wold Cup.
Because of the time zone difference (South Africa is 7 hours behind Japan), games start at our 8:30 pm, 11:00 pm, or 3:30 am. For this reason, since the start of the World Cup, I have not been getting enough sleep!
Japan is ranked 45th in the world and it is in Group E of the Finals qualifying matches. In this group, we've played against Cameroon (ranked 19th) on June 19. Many people here were pessimistic about the result, but we beat them 1-0!
Last night, the team played FIFA 4th ranked Netherlands. The Netherlands beat Denmark (ranked 36th) 2-0 on June 14th match.
Many people expected Japan to be crushed. But to our nice surprise, it really was a good match, although at the end, the result was 0-1 loss. The team defended well against the very strong team and took chances to attack. Our goalie - Eiji Kawashima - saved several very scary moments, but could not fend-off the amazing shot Wesley Sneijder took at the 53rd min. Japan had some close shots by Yuto Nagatomo, Daisuke Matsui, Yoshito Okubo, and Shinji Okazaki, but they were not good enough.
I am proud of them and I look forward to the next game against Denmark on the 25th. If Japan wins or ties against them, then the team will advance to the final "Round of 16."
The pictures of the Japan Team displayed at Japan Football Museum.
"Samura Blue Park" was set up for the supporters to cheer for the team in Yoyogi.
Samura Blue banner at a sports bar.
Yatagarasu (Three-Legged-Raven) is the symbol of Japan Football Association.