Staff, 2022-12-03 18:24:00,
THE football World Cup in Qatar, only the second ever in Asia, has caused bewilderment and dismay in Europe and South America, the bastions of the sport; it has, on the flipside, left Asia breathless and ecstatic.
Who would have thought that Japan would top a group that also contained Germany and Spain? Before the tournament began, was it even remotely conceivable that Japan would beat Germany and Spain? Or that South Korea would hold Uruguay and beat Portugal? What about world No. 53 Saudi Arabia beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina, ranked No. 3? The victory of the Saudis could be attributed to opportunism and exceptional conversion, plus the urging on from the supports that had packed the stands… A rare shock rather than sustained surge.
But the performance of Japan and South Korea has followed solid groundwork — hard work over decades, investment into the sport, and exchange of expertise with Europe through itinerant players and coaches. Japanese and Korean players are fit and strong, hard sprinters and tacklers; they are skilful and physical, too. Their defence was brave and organised, and they struck when the opportunities they created were most favourable.
Japan had only 22% ball possession against Germany, and a paltry 14% against Spain, but when the supply lines managed to put the ball deep in the opponents’ half, they scored; they had three shots at…
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