Japan's media hailed the shock
1-0 win over Spain in their opening game of the men's London
Olympics' football tournament as a miracle on Friday.
Hyperbole abounded after Thursday's upset, reminding people
that Japan's men can play a bit too after the country's women
sensationally won last year's World Cup.
Japan's Nikkan Sports daily described the win as the
"Miracle of Glasgow" after Yuki Otsu's first-half goal proved
the difference in the Group D game.
Despite being an under-23 competition, Spain, world and
European champions at senior level, are regarded as potential
gold medallists at the London Olympics.
Japan's job was helped by the sending off of midfielder
Inigo Martinez just before half-time.
"I was sobbing at the end of the game," match-winner Otsu
told Japanese media after his close-range goal helped Japan beat
Spain for the first time at any level.
"We are here to win the gold medal," added the German-based
midfielder, who was tweeting "Please! Please!" from the bench in
the second half after being withdrawn with a bruised ankle.
"Japan shock the world!" screamed the Sankei Sports, while
the Mainichi Daily's headline ran "Otsu sinks unbeatable Armada"
and the win was a hot topic on Friday's television talk shows.
The government also praised the result, Chief Cabinet
Secretary Osamu Fujimura called it a "truly a great start to
beat mighty Spain."
Japan's men last won an Olympic medal at the 1968 Mexico
Olympics when they took bronze but have not advanced beyond the
group stages since the 2000 Sydney Games.
A Japan team full of fresh-faced players such as Hidetoshi
Nakata and Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi famously stunned Brazil 1-0 at
the 1996 Atlanta Games, dubbed the "Miracle of Miami."
The Japanese players, however, insisted after beating Spain
that there was nothing miraculous about the win.
"It's not a miracle," said Otsu. "It's the result of hard
work and preparation."
After Japan's world champion women won their opening game,
the pressure had been on the men, who caused a stir by flying to
London in business class while the women sat in premium economy.
Japan's world champion women came to symbolise the
determination of a nation united in recovering from last year's
deadly tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis.
"It's a good job we won," said Japan captain Maya Yoshida.
"If we had lost after they won, you know what people would have
been saying about us."
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