Teams /  Japan  / Japan 
Japan have 614 Fans
World Cup 2010: Paraguay make Japan pay the penalty for negativity
Sean Ingle at Loftus Versfeld Stadium - 3 years ago

As Oscar Cardozo began his run-up for what turned out to be Paraguay's winning penalty, Japan's players knelt together on the halfway line, hardly daring to look. And as the ball rolled into the left-hand corner of the net, some heads dropped to the floor, their World Cup hopes decapitated.

Meanwhile 20 yards away, those in red and white began a long and tearful victory charge towards Cardozo, whose nerveless penalty settled a highly nervy encounter. Paraguay scored all five of their spot-kicks, while only Yuichi Komano, who smashed his shot against the bar, missed for Japan. By such margins are games decided.

"There was fear and tension," the Paraguay coach, Gerardo Martino, said. "Everyone knows it is unfair to settle a game like this. But when you win the tension is released and so many things go through your mind. That was the reason for the tears."

"This is our best success," he added. "We are having a party. We celebrate with the rest of Paraguay. Let them enjoy it. The players made a huge effort. This is a success. We have made it to the quarter-finals. We know we are in the best eight in the world."

It was perhaps inevitable that the knockout stages of this World Cup would produce a stinker at some point, after 21 goals in the opening six second-round matches, and it duly arrived in Pretoria today. Tension gripped the game, with Paraguay playing tidy but unthreatening football and Japan content to counter, and never let go.

Bursts of sustained excitement were rare, although there were chances early on. After 20 minutes, Lucas Barrios spun around Yuichi Komano before side-footing weakly at Eiji Kawashima and could only watch as Japan zipped up the pitch before Daisuke Matsui smashed a whirling shot over the scrambling Justo Villar and against the bar.

Just before the half-hour, Roque Santa Cruz missed perhaps the best chance of the match, pulling his shot from a corner wide from eight yards. A goal would have spared us what followed.

Paraguay had the better of the second half but long before the end both teams seemed content to drift into the choppier waters of extra-time and penalties. Nelson Valdez did prompt a few gasps when he took Claudio Morel's pass on the spin only for Kawashima to dash out to smother, and he also came close when flicking over the bar after a scramble just outside the six-yard box. Japan's best response came from a 25-yard free-kick from Keisuke Honda, whose toe-poke was going wide when Justo Villar pushed it round the post.

But these moments offered rare respite from the general turgidity. "It was perhaps not what people wanted to watch but no team has anything to reproach themselves about," Martino said. "Japan played as they usually do. The go back, wait, counter. They were difficult."

That was true enough, but Paraguay lacked the confidence – and probably the desire – to risk more in trying to break them down.

Still, Japan have contributed much to this World Cup, and their manager, Takeshi Okada, said he was proud of his players' performances. "I have no regrets," he said. "The players were wonderful. The represented Japan and Asia as a whole. It is very difficult to say for one single reason why we couldn't score. We are not a team who can score numerous goals."

"It is my responsibility because as the head coach I should have been more insistent on winning," he added. "But even with extra time and penalties, our objective was to score and win. What we have done is not sufficient."

When Okada was asked if he would carry on he was frank. "I don't think I will continue for four more years," he said. "Probably I won't."

Paraguay certainly do continue and will face Spain in the quarter-finals on Saturday night. Remarkably, of the five South American teams in this World Cup, four are still standing. "South America is peaking," said Martino. "We have so many in the last eight." They could even have four teams in the semi-finals, given the draw, but on this evidence you imagine Paraguay's next opponents Spain would not be too worried about what lies in wait.

This is not a news report and may contain views expressed by the author which are not supported by GNM.

Share your thoughts
Sign in to comment

Latest News, Blogs & Podcasts

Quartet return for Ferns clash with Japan. The Football Ferns will get a true sense of where they stand in the world game next month when they tackle world number three side Japan in Osaka on May 8. Ali Riley is one of four players back in the Football ...
Football Italia - 2 weeks ago
He also successfully navigated the nation's path to Brazil this summer but, according to the report, numerous sources close to the Japanese Football Association say that the 61-year-old will leave the post once he has presided over the World Cup campaign.
The Guardian - 13 hours ago
The Mariners needed a draw to progress to the knockout stage of the competition for the second successive year but a lone deflected goal in the second half instead earned the Japanese champions the second and final qualifying berth in the group ...
Tribal Football - 2 weeks ago
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw Japan beaten by Paraguay on penalties after a 0-0 draw following their 2006 campaign in Germany where the Blue Samurai finished bottom of their group. The 2002 version, held jointly in South Korea and their ...
Nintendo Life - 6 days ago
Supporters of Japanese football who also happen to be obsessed with Pokémon are in for a special treat with a very exclusive giveaway. Nintendo are giving fans the chance to score one of three limited edition Pokémon-themed 3DS XL systems at ...
Football Espana - 3 weeks ago
Espanyol Coach Javier Aguirre has been targeted by three national teams - Qatar, Japan and Greece, according to reports. AS claims that Aguirre was said to be close to taking over with Qatar at the end of the season but the interest from Japan has ...
NAGOYA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Menicon Co., Ltd., Japan's leading contact lens manufacturer, recently donated 3 million yen plus staff volunteer time to the revitalization of three soccer pitches in the Tohoku region, as part of an ongoing effort to ...
Goal.com - 2 days ago
I may not be a great player but I want to continue to contribute to women's football in Japan. Hopefully the 'Nadeshiko Boom' will never end! Congratulations to Young Nadeshiko! Earlier this month, the Japan U-17 Women's national team won the FIFA U-17 ...
University Herald - 3 weeks ago
Nintendo, prominent video game developer, and Adidas have named Pikachu the official mascot for the Japanese football team for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Adidas is the official sponsor of Japan's national football team. The chubby ...
Announcing his intentions on Thursday, Tashima told a press conference: “What we, Japan Football Association, and the members of Asian football family aim for has been and will always be the same; development of football. The development of football in ...

Latest Photo Galleries

World Cup 2010: Paraguay v Japan and Spain v Portugal in pictures
3 years ago
The best pictures of the Paraguay v Japan and Spain v Portugal quarter-finals
World Cup 2010: The best images from Italy v Paraguay and Japan v Cameroon
3 years ago
Pictures from of Italy's Group F opener against Paraguay and Japan's win over Cameroon in Group E
Kick4Life - changing lives through football