(MENAFN- The Peninsula) The Peninsula
Narita: Japan will put their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 heartbreak behind them and focus on becoming Asian champions for a fifth time, captain Maya Yoshida said after the team returned home on Wednesday.
The Blue Samurai were eliminated from the FIFA World Cup on penalties by Croatia in the last 16 on Monday, denying them a first-ever place in the quarter-finals.
But the defeat did not stop hundreds of fans from travelling to an airport near Tokyo to welcome the players and head coach Hajime Moriyasu back from Qatar.
“We won't stop here,” Yoshida said at a news conference after arriving.“We will aim to become the best in Asia.
“Our fight will continue. As long as we keep playing football, we must keep fighting.” The AFC Asian Cup will also be held in Qatar.
Japan won the most recent of their four AFC Asian Cup titles the last time Qatar hosted the tournament, in 2011.
The Blue Samurai could not find a way past Croatia in the last 16 of the FIFA World Cup, but they stunned former champions Germany and Spain to top their first-round group.
“We couldn't reach new heights but my players showed us a new era, and this is just the beginning,” said Moriyasu. AFC
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