FIFA WC 2018: Japanese journey of joy to sorrow took 25 minutes

Jul 04, 2018, 08:55 IST | AFP

During the closing stages of Japan's Last 16 match with Belgium in Rostov-on-Don, the Samurai Blue were 2-0 up and on course for their first World Cup quarter-final

FIFA WC 2018: Japanese journey of joy to sorrow took 25 minutes
Japanese fans in tears after their team's 2-3 defeat to Belgium on Monday. Pic/AFP

From Tokyo bars to a Buddhist temple, for millions of Japanese football fans the emotions were the same—pinch-me optimism to crushing disappointment, all in the space of 25 agonising minutes.

During the closing stages of Japan's Last 16 match with Belgium in Rostov-on-Don, the Samurai Blue were 2-0 up and on course for their first World Cup quarter-final. But by the final whistle, substitute Nacer Chadli had scored in injury time as Belgium fought back to win 3-2, stunning Japan's fans into silence. "I'm so frustrated," Ryota Iwakiri said bitterly at a bar in Tokyo.

"The game was like a rollercoaster. They let us dream of a victory at one point. They really had good momentum," said Yuki Kakishita, an employee at a real estate agency.

Fans at the bar had exploded with joy when Takashi Inui scored the team's second goal. "We were so excited when Japan took the lead. But Belgium were tough," said Shimon Otomo, a businessman. At one Zen temple in Shizuoka the chief priest led fans in chanting a Buddhist sutra after the game. "We asked visitors to watch the game calmly but everyone, myself included, couldn't help but jump and shout when Japan scored," the priest, Taiko Ishida said. "It was a dramatic ending. The result was so regrettable," he added.

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