Hajime Moriyasu, the coach of the selected japanese, returned to Doha this Wednesday for a football match. Memories of an unfortunate October 28, 1993 will have passed through his head. Then a footballer, today DT played in the midfield of a Japanese team whose flagship was the eternal Kazu Miura. It was the last match of the Asian qualifiers against Iraq, at the Al-Ahli stadium in Qatar. Moriyasu, who was wearing the number 17 shirt, was looking with his teammates for Japan’s first qualification to a World Cup. A victory was enough to go to United States 94. Miura had put Japan ahead. Iraq equalized and Masashi Nakahama scored to make it 2-1 for the Blue Samurai. However, after the first minute of added time, Jaffar Omran, with a header, signaled the Iraqi equalizer.
South Korea went to the United States instead of Japan. This became known as “the agony of Doha”, and it plagued Moriyasu all these years. Until today.
In the same city of that misfortune, the Japanese coach gave a tactical lesson by changing his team’s structure and playing with a 3-4-3 that distracted one of the most powerful teams in the world: Germany. Despite the victory, achieved seven minutes from the final whistle, the Japanese coach spoke highly of German football. After all, seven of his players are in the Bundesliga and have progressed thanks to the competition in that country. “We are grateful and respectful of that. Many Germans have contributed and helped us with Japanese football. Today Japan won, but Japan wants to continue learning from Germany and the rest of the world.”
Today’s match, played at the Khalifa stadium, a few meters from the famous Aspire academy, in Doha, went down in history: it was the first in which the Japanese team managed to turn the score around in a World Cup. And only the sixth time that Germany has had a World Cup result reversed: Switzerland in 1938, Sweden in 1958, England in 1966, Austria in 1978, Bulgaria in 1994 and Japan in 2022. “We are reaching the level of world football . We are showing the world our ability and that of Asian football. When we conceded a goal, we continued. We had to be persistent. And firm until the last breath of the game. It was only then that we were able to embrace this moment”, Moriyasu elaborated after one of the most important victories for his team. After a small personal revenge in that Asian capital that caused him so much pain during his career as a footballer.
“We decided to fight tenaciously, which led us to victory. We fought with the collective strength of the team, an all-out war,” Moriyasu said of the match, quoted by the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun in its online edition. “It’s a historic moment,” added the Japanese coach.
Moriyasu is a faithful admirer of the Argentine fans. “I hope we can learn more about the culture of these fans,” he said in 2015 after his team, Sanfrecce Hiroshima, lost to River of Marcelo Gallardo in the Club World Cup (1-0, with a goal from Lucas Alario). The match was in Osaka, Japan, but there were 15,000 millionaire fans who filled the stadium and were a true human tide that caught the attention of today’s coach of the Japanese national team.
“Doha is a place of frustration and sadness for me, but I’m not thinking of revenge,” Moriyasu said a few days ago, in the run-up to the World Cup, knowing that his final list of 26 players had some men touched and others not. They came at their best. And he also had injuries, of course. He could not count on Yuta Nakayama, from Huddersfield (England’s second division), for example. “We showed that Japanese footballers got better and were able to bring out their true skills,” Moriyasu boasted at the press conference.
The summary of the historic Japanese victory
The last image of the Khalifa stadium is a painting of the oriental discipline: while the Japanese fans collected papers, flags and streamers from the stands, Moriyasu talked to his players animatedly on the side of the field. The DT already knew that on the night of Tokyo the victory was celebrated with enthusiasm. And that social networks were flooded with messages apologizing for the anticipated criticism. “We thought you were going to lose,” admitted some Japanese fans. Qatar, for once, proved them wrong. Moriyasu wasn’t looking for revenge, but he had it. And Doha ceased to be the city of agony.
I have worked in the news industry for over 10 years. I have a keen interest in sports and have written for many different publications. I am currently working as an author at 24 News Recorder. I cover mostly sports news but also write about other topics such as current affairs and politics. I have a strong interest in social media and how it can be used to engage with audiences.