Expectations Hit A New Low
The 2-0 defeat to The Ivory Coast was a disappointing affair. It wasn’t as if they were outplayed or anything, it was just the fact that they offered next to nothing as an attacking force. At the same time they were susceptible to every high ball in to their own box. It was the kind of performance Japanese supporters have become used to though that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.
By the time the final whistle blew the general feeling had gone from believing there was a chance of getting out of the group to complete pessimism among the fans. Three defeats without any goals now seemed to be the common prediction.
At least they won’t be as disappointed as they were in 2006. The feeling then was that Zico’s men had underachieved, though in truth expectations were too high (It was a tough group and Japan had never previously won a World Cup game on foreign soil). They managed just a point from the three games. A similar effort this time would come as no surprise to anyone. Confidence among the loyal supporters is as low as I can remember since coming here in 2002.
That said, the great thing about the World Cup is that the mood can change quickly. A moment of genius from Honda or mistake in the Cameroon defence and suddenly qualification will not seem so unrealistic. Technically they are at least as good as Denmark and Cameroon. Where they are weaker than all three opponents is the lack of killer instinct up front. They also have real problems at the back. Nonetheless, if they can play like they did against England (minus the own goals) they will have a chance. If on the other hand they perform as they did in the other recent friendlies (Serbia, South Korea and The Ivory Coast) they will need a miracle.
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