With the World Cup back and roaring in action in Qatar this year, it’s safe to say that there have been a considerable amount of unexpected wins thus far.
Both Japan and South Korea have been eliminated as of today (6 December), with both countries bidding farewell to the World Cup in the round of 16.
The two countries played their last games in Qatar 2022 against Croatia and Brazil, respectively, but failed to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
The exit of both Asian countries also means that no more countries from Asia are in the running for the champions title in Qatar this year.
And here’s what you need to know.
Japan: Lost to Croatia, Finalists in the Last World Cup
During their most recent match, Daizen Maeda from the Japanese team scored a goal right before the halftime whistle, increasing their fans’ excitement and anticipation for yet another win.
However, despite the early lead, Ivan Perisic from Croatia was right on their tail and scored a goal at the 55th minute.
After that, Japan and Croatia found themselves in a 1-1 tie after their match.
The Croatian team, finalists in the 2018 World Cup, eventually took the win after scoring three points in the penalty shootout. Croatian Mario Pasalic scored the last goal in the penalty shootout, clinching the ticket to the quarterfinals for the European country.
On the other hand, Japan scored one and missed three out of four of their spot kicks, with players Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida failing to score after a good fight that Croatia’s Dominik Livakovic put up.
Before this match, Japan had pulled out various surprising victories against World Cup giants like Germany, four-time World Cup champions, and Spain, which was the 2010 World Cup champion.
The Japanese fans who headed down to watch their national team compete were also lauded on social media after they were seen cleaning up the stadium after the matches. Similarly, the Japanese team was praised for keeping their changing room tidy and cleaning up after themselves.
South Korea: Lost to 5-Time Champions Brazil
As for South Korea, they bowed out of Qatar 2022 shortly after Japan’s exit after losing 4-1 to Brazil, with the latter being the most successful team that the World Cup has ever seen.
The five-time champions, who last won the World Cup in 2013, snagged the win after players Vinicius Jr., Neymar Jr., Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta scored all four of their goals in the first half of the game.
Despite being the clear-cut winners, they had to continue playing in the second half, but players apparently began to “conserve their energy”.
15 minutes before the game ended, Paik Seung-Ho was able to score the only goal for the Korean team that night.
During the game, the Brazillian players celebrated every goal with their own specially choreographed dances and even managed to get their head coach, Tite, to dance with them as well.
They also raised a banner reading “Pelé” since Brazillian soccer player and three-time World Cup winner Pelé, one of the world’s most successful football players in history, is currently hospitalised in Sao Paulo.
For the South Korean team, however, it marked the end of their World Cup journey, and their loss also signalled the end of Asia’s journey in Qatar 2022.
Before the match against Brazil, South Korea first entered the World Cup in a 0-0 draw against Uruguay before losing to Ghana 3-2.
However, they were able to win against Portugal 2-1 when Hwang Hee-Chan managed to score a goal in the 91st minute of the game, sending the Koreans to the round of 16 for the first time since 2010 after winning Group H in the group stage.
The South Koreans could advance instead of Uruguay as they had more points than the South American country despite scoring the same number of goals.
Their coach, Paulo Bento, announced shortly after the team’s exit that he would not continue as the South Korean team’s coach.
Bento, who coached his home country, Portugal, in the 2014 World Cup, claimed that he had made the decision in September last year and praised the Korean players for being some of the best he has ever worked with.
However, he said that he would be taking a break before deciding on the next move for his career.
With both South Korea and Japan out of the running right before the quarterfinals, the eight teams that have confirmed their spot to continue fighting for the first-place title are Croatia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Argentina, England and France.
Two more matches for the round of 16 will be played.
The matches will be between Morocco and Spain as well as Portugal and Switzerland, and they will be played tonight (6 December) at 11 pm and tomorrow (7 December) at 3 am respectively, where the winner of the matches will advance to the quarterfinals.
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