Joyous Japan: The 2002 World Cup co-hosts reached the last 16 of the World Cup at the expense of Denmark today enabling their fans to celebrate at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa (AP Photo).
Set pieces haven’t played a big role in the World Cup so far, but leave it to the precise Japanese to change that, downing the dowdy Danes with two free kicks for a deserved 3-1 win.
Japan joins the Netherlands in the last 16. The Dutch reeled off their third World Cup victory in a row, beating Cameroon 2-1.
The attack-minded Japanese looked hungrier and more confident and the Danes were conversely hesitant and apparently lacking self belief.
When I visited Torrance’s Miyako Hybrid Hotel earlier in the tournament they had been forced to close the second floor after slumbering guests complained because of the screams of scores of excited Japanese soccer fans from the bar below. Good thing this game aired around lunchtime, otherwise management might have had to find them rooms elsewhere altogether.