TOKYO - Japanese football fans celebrated
wildly as dawn broke on Friday and police were called on to
fish revelers out of rivers after the national side stunned
Denmark 3-1 to reach the second round of the World Cup in South
Newspaper headlines boasted of "history in the making"
after the Blue Samurai reached the last 16 for the second time,
while television viewing figures nudged past 41 percent despite
the game finishing just before 5:30am local time.
The famous "scramble crossing" intersection in Tokyo's
Shibuya district erupted in a crescendo of chanting and
drumming as more than 1,000 fans clad in Japan's blue team
shirts hugged as the final whistle blew.
"I'm still shaking, I just can't believe it," tearful
21-year-old clothes shop assistant Yuka Higashi told Reuters,
shouting to be heard over the noise around her. "Honda's
Midfielder Keisuke Honda scored Japan's first goal against
Denmark in Rustenburg after firing the winner against Cameroon
in their opening game.
Screaming fans doused each other with water from plastic
bottles at the end of Thursday's match, gleefully ignoring
police loudspeaker warnings to "stop being a nuisance!"
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, on official business in
Canada, sent a message of congratulations to Japan, who arrived
at the tournament mired in a miserable run of form but now face
Paraguay on Tuesday for a place in the quarter-finals.
"I wish to congratulate the team on their excellent
achievement," Kan said. "The side has given the whole country
energy and pride."
Energy drinks were being guzzled by many fans as euphoria
gave way to exhaustion and thoughts of a train straight to
"I won't get any sleep now," 33-year-old banker Tsuyoshi
Hamada said, wincing. "Shower and straight to the office. It's
worth it though."
In Osaka, more than 50 fans plunged into the murky waters
of the city's Dotonbori river in a repeat of the jubilant
scenes of 2002 when Japan reached the last 16 as World Cup
"Don't take the Mickey!" Japan's Brazilian-born defender
Tulio told the Nikkan Sports, warning Paraguay they will not
get things all their way in the last 16.
"Every last drop!" blared the Sankei Sports, praising the
team's endeavour after Japan capitalised on their first World
Cup win on foreign soil against Cameroon in their opening game.
Former Japan captain Hidetoshi Nakata, who retired from the
game in tears after the country's meek exit from the 2006
finals, added his support.
"That's the sort of game we've wanted to see," he said.
"They've grown up at this World Cup. Now let's hope they can go
further than we did in 2002."
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