Japans Danish upset

Samurai Blue keeps on rolling


Japan moved beyond the draw to make the final 16 by pulling a victory against fellow Group E member, Denmark. Up until this match, previous outings against Cameroon and Holland left high hopes but no clear victory for Samurai Blue, despite the fans flocking to Ebisu’s Liquidroom and Time Out Café & Diner.

Wrapped up in Samurai Blue uniforms, Ken Ishii and DJ Krush showed plenty of enthusiasm that upped the voltage at the already energy-charged event. Complete with the hum of Atsushi Shikano’s red vuvuzela – the ubiquitous horn representative of this year’s South Africa-hosted World Cup – and the shouts of ‘Nippon!’ filling the air, supporters Ungirls (Makoto Yamane and Takashi Tanaka) made a special appearance which upped the cheering ante to frenzied proportions.

With the match beginning, and the tension rising, supporters set out to cheer their favourite team, no matter which side they were rooting for. Seventeen minutes into the first half, Keisuke Honda left-footed a free kick that proved to be a sly undercover (and successful) attempt at a goal. Thirty minutes in, and Yasuhito Endo answered Honda’s foray with a right-footer that, while more straightforward, hit the upper corner without much effort bringing the score to 2-0. Only half the match gone and already the room was at fever pitch.

Thirty-six minutes into the second half and goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who had already blocked a botched open shot by Danish Dynamite’s Jon Dahl Tomasson, saw the Dane get a lone goal past him, bringing the score to 2-1.

Samurai Blue fans felt a moment of anxiety as the match got a bit too close for comfort, while fans of Olsen’s Eleven hoped for at least a tie-up. Shunji Okazaki, who was subbed in, scored the final win-securing goal in the 87th minute, leaving Samurai Blue fans roaring with elation and team Japan ranked second in Group E and advancing to the group of 16.

In the excitement, Ungirls’ Tanaka and Yamane celebrated with a stage dive, which was greeted by the roiling floor of football fans with a resounding ‘What the heck?’ and a sea of hands.

Samurai Blue isn’t out of the woods yet; the long road is just starting. Next up is Group F, number-one ranking Paraguay which will prove to be a fierce competition taking place on Tuesday June 29 with an 11pm kickoff. This match marks Team Japan’s fight to break into the final eight; don’t let the cheering fade away just yet – the party’s just getting started.

Photo by Takeshi Maruyama
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.



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