At the World Cup, Japan Takes Out the Trash, and Others Get the Hint
(CNN) — The World Cup is officially over in Brazil. But in the heat of the game, the Japanese squad is still celebrating.
“It’s the best feeling in the world to play at a World Cup against one’s own country,” captain Keisuke Honda told CNN. “We thought we could pull this off and win it for Japan, but it was a lot of hard work. I think we did a great job. If I had to choose one moment to be happy about it was the final game.”
The three wins for Japan — including their best-ever result at the World Cup at 1-0 against South Korea in the quarterfinals — have been a reminder of what they’ve achieved: winning the Asian Cup two years ago and lifting the Asian Games in 2002.
But while the world’s attention has been focused on the Japanese, a team of international footballers also got the message that they should be proud of their victory in Brazil.
“There’s been a lot of criticism about us and what we’ve done,” said Italian striker Marco van Basten, who has scored 32 international goals in his career. “But what we’ve done is a good achievement for our team and we’ve managed to be one of the top teams in the world.”
Basten was referring to Japan’s World Cup success, although many people would argue that the Japanese also helped themselves.
Japan’s 3-1 win over France on Saturday is its first time taking out the trash since 2006, when Brazil defeated them 3-1 in a penalty shootout.
Honda was asked: “There’s been a lot of criticism and stuff, but what we’ve done is a great achievement for our team. We’ve managed to be one of the best teams in the world. So everybody has to accept that we’ve achieved something in the World Cup. We’ve got a lot of things to work on.”
And that is precisely the message that has been heard in Russia: “We’re just another group of people who are trying to make a difference,” said FIFA president Sepp Blatter. “So it’s not really different.”
Fittingly, Brazil coach Jorge Jesus also used the word “apartheid” in his post-game interview, describing Japan’s win at the World