Japan knocked out of the World Cup after 3-2 defeat to Belgium in the round of 16. But the Japanese team and their fans would have been forgiven for cleaning the dressing room after the World Cup exit.
The team left the dressing room of Rostov Arena spotless. Almost every Japan player was in tears when Nacir Chadli scored the last minute winner in the RO16 clash. Belgium came back from 2-0 down after two early 2nd half goals from Japan.
Priscilla Janssens, the general coordinator of FIFA posted on Twitter about the effort Japanese player put in to clear the mess. Janssens shared the picture of the dressing room cleaned by the Japanese and captioned image with “this is the picture of the Japan dressing room after losing to Belgium in 94th minute“.
She further said that the Japanese cleaned the stadium mess, cleaned the dressing room thanked Russia and even left thank you note in the host country. The coordinator further said they have made a great example for the other teams and it was a treat working with them.
After watching their team knocked out of the tournament, Japanese fans were also spotted collecting rubbish from benches and chairs. In all previous matches, Japanese fans were seen staying behind to allow workers to collect litters from the stands.
On Monday, Japan was so close to causing another major upset of the FIFA World Cup 2018. Belgium – one of the favorites to win the World Cup struggled heavily against determined Japan team when they both met in the RO16 clash.
Japan took the lead in 48th minute when Genki Haraguchi put the ball back in the net. Four minutes, they doubled the lead when Takashi Inui scored an absolute stunner to beat Thibaut Courtois in the 52nd minute.
But Belgium attack proved too strong for the Japanese defense as Spur’s John Vertonghen scored a peach of a header in the 69th minute to get one back for the red devils. Five minutes after Vertonghen’s goal, the Manchester United man Marouane Fellaini converted a beautiful cross from Eden Hazard to Belgium’s second.
After Marouane Fellaini, another substitute player involved in Belgium winner. Japan took a corner in the 94th minute and to their misery, they had only a couple of player left behind when they took the corner.
Belgium’s keeper caught the curling corner and rolled the ball towards Manchester City’s sensation Kevin De Bryne. Belgium’s no 7 then passed the ball to his right where Thomas Meunier was running towards the Japanese goal. Meunier’s cross was then intelligently left by Romelu Lukaku as Nacer Chadli was arriving at the penalty spot. After that, Chadli put the ball back into the net from a close range and drive his team to the quarter-final.
After the loss, Akira Nishino, Japan National team coach said that he still can’t believe what happened on the pitch. It is hard to admit the defeat like this but they have to accept the defeat as fact, Nishino further added.
He said that his players gave their all and their aim was to go to the next round and that’s why he can’t call it a success but he said that his team played beautiful football on the pitch. The coach further said that he told the players to have a shower as they were doing nothing and standing still on the pitch.
Akira said that his time not only played well but also deserve better than this. We matched the intensity of Belgium players and we believed that we could beat them, the coach continued.
He further said that when his team conceded that late, he did not blame the players but he blamed himself and his tactics. The former midfielder said that he wanted to give his team a different mentality to what the team had in the past and he was also succeeded in doing so but he said that there was still something missing in his player’s skills. Belgium will now play Brazil in the quarter-final in Kazan Arena.