Japanese proud of Samurai despite elimination
Japan's penalty shootout elimination in the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup was bitter, but the people back home expressed their pride in the Samurai Blue's performance, DPA reported.
"It was too bad, but you really gave your best," said Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan of head coach Takeshi Okada's team, who lost to Paraguay in their first ever World Cup knockout stage appearance on foreign soil.
"The players really gave a great effort and I am proud of them. This team made Japan and all of Asia proud," said Okada after the penalty shootout loss to Paraguay.
The coach also hinted that he would be stepping down from the national team, adding: "I don't think that there is anything left that I can still do."
Thousands of fans gathered throughout Japan in public viewing areas to cheer on their team.
They screamed in amazement and disappointment when Yuichi Komano's penalty attempt struck the crossbar and after Paraguay converted their final game-winning spot kick. And many fans broke down in tears.
Still, the fans thanked the players for the excitement that they produced throughout the nation.
"Our team was especially good in defence and proved that their playing style can hold its own on the world stage. There was just a step missing. I would like to thank the players directly," said one fan.