Japan targets fifth Asian title after World Cup heartbreak

layers celebrate during one of the penalty shoot-out in the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022.

Japan’s gamers rejoice for the duration of a person of the penalty shoot-out in the Qatar 2022 Earth Cup round of 16 soccer match amongst Japan and Croatia at the Al-Janoub Stadium in Al-Wakrah, south of Doha on December 5, 2022. (Picture by François-Xavier MARIT / AFP)

Japan will set their World Cup heartbreak at the rear of them and concentrate on starting to be Asian champions for a fifth time, captain Maya Yoshida claimed immediately after the group returned residence on Wednesday.

The Blue Samurai have been eliminated from the Environment Cup on penalties by Croatia in the very last 16 on Monday, denying them a 1st-ever spot in the quarter-finals.

But the defeat did not stop hundreds of followers from touring to an airport near Tokyo to welcome the players and mentor Hajime Moriyasu back again from Qatar.

“We won’t prevent here,” Yoshida mentioned at a information convention following arriving.

“We will aim to grow to be the ideal in Asia,” he included.

“Our combat will proceed. As very long as we continue to keep participating in soccer, we ought to maintain preventing.”

The Asian Cup will also be held in Qatar just after primary host China dropped out because of to its strict anti-COVID insurance policies.

The match was established to be held in June and July 2023 but is now likely to be postponed until finally early 2024 to prevent Qatar’s fierce summer warmth.

Japan received the most recent of their 4 Asian Cup titles the very last time Qatar hosted the tournament, in 2011.

The Blue Samurai could not locate a way past Croatia in the last 16 of the Earth Cup, but they stunned former champions Germany and Spain to best their initially-round group.

“We couldn’t access new heights but my gamers showed us a new period, and this is just the beginning,” said Moriyasu.

Among the group of supporters waiting around to welcome the staff household at the airport was 55-12 months-aged Takamichi Masui.

He reported the wins above Germany and Spain have been proof that “Japan has turn into a soccer powerhouse”.

A different fan, 37-12 months-previous Takahiro Ichikawa, reported that like captain Yoshida, he is only searching ahead.

“For now, I hope the countrywide group will target on pulling off a stable functionality in the Asian Cup in Qatar,” he claimed.

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