Japan have already gained two battles at this World Cup. Sudden comeback wins towards Germany and Spain noticed them high the group of dying, however a much bigger struggle lies forward.
To do what they’ve by no means finished earlier than and attain the quarter-finals, they need to embody the spirit of medieval warriors. That was the message of veteran star Yuto Nagatomo at Sunday’s press convention.
Nagatomo is enjoying in his fourth consecutive World Cup and was a part of the crew overwhelmed by Belgium within the final 16 in Russia 4 years in the past.
Japan’s veteran defender Yuto Nagatomo has referred to as on his teammates to harness the spirit of the samurai
Japan certified for the World Cup final 16 after beating Spain to high their group and advance to the knockout phases
The defender used the analogy of the samurai to elucidate how they plan to go one step additional and make historical past.
‘In Japan, the samurai may be very well-known. We want to struggle like samurai,’ Nagatomo, 36, mentioned.
‘Earlier than they polish their weapons, they attempt to enhance their strategies. If they’re scared throughout the battle they won’t be able to make use of their weapons and their strategies absolutely. It’s precisely the identical with soccer. In fact there are strategies and there’s method that are vital.
‘However irrespective of how a lot we now have improved these, if we’re scared when we face the sport, these issues are ineffective. With a view to maximise all of the techniques that we now have been discussing and practising within the final 4 years, we have to have braveness.’
Japan’s gamers might want to produce a samurai displaying to beat Croatia on Monday
Japan demonstrated their high quality to tug off a shocking comeback towards Spain
Japan’s wins over Germany and Spain have been virtually an identical in that they have been trailing 1-0 at half-time earlier than scoring two fast objectives within the second half by means of their intense urgent. Within the recreation towards Spain that they had simply 17.7 per cent possession, nevertheless it didn’t matter. They’d extra spirit, extra ardour.
‘Earlier than the primary recreation with Germany, there’s a phrase in Italian — corragio, which implies braveness,’ Nagatomo mentioned.
‘So I shook fingers with every one of many gamers and we each shouted “corragio!” collectively. I believe all of the gamers are manifesting this brave play.’
However with their group stage battles over, the struggle of the knockouts has solely simply begun for the brave samurai in blue.
Nagatomo (left) believes Japan can discover a approach into the World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar