Round of 16: Bitter triple: Japan leaves the World Cup stage very disappointed

A touched Hajime Moriyasu bowed to Japan's loyal football fans, the local journalists later said goodbye to the coach with loud applause: Japan has dramatically missed the quarter-finals at the World Cup for the third time in twelve years.

Round of 16: Bitter triple: Japan leaves the World Cup stage very disappointed

A touched Hajime Moriyasu bowed to Japan's loyal football fans, the local journalists later said goodbye to the coach with loud applause: Japan has dramatically missed the quarter-finals at the World Cup for the third time in twelve years.

After a penalty knockout against Paraguay in 2010 and a playful 2-0 lead against Belgium in 2018, Moriyasu's team caught it again this time: in the 3-1 draw against Croatia on penalties, the missed attempts by Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida caused great disillusionment.

"It's a huge disappointment. We defeated Germany and Spain, that was a great performance. We wanted to be in the last eight, but we didn't make it. That's disappointing," said Stuttgart's Wataru Endo after the thriller against the World Cup runners-up of 2018. Japan's lead by Daizen Maeda was worthless in the end, as first Ivan Perisic equalized and then Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic became the hero with three saved penalties. "I think Croatia's goalkeeper was just great," admitted Moriyasu.

Despite missing the World Cup goal, the 54-year-old expressed pride in his team, which had caused a sensation worldwide with the 2-1 victories over former champions Spain and Germany. "We didn't reach the quarter-finals and couldn't set that milestone. But we beat Spain and Germany, who are former world champions. Japan can have big wins on the world stage," said Moriyasu. "A new era was founded" with the team around Frankfurt's Daichi Kamada and VfB professional Endo.

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