How singing fans inspired the Japanese fightback against Germany in the World Cup

The intensity of their singing grew every time the Japanese players ran to get the ball out of their half and make a foray into the opponent's box

By Rituraj Borkakoty from Doha

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Published: Thu 24 Nov 2022, 12:09 AM

With their team trailing by a first-half goal from Germany’s Ilkay Gundogan, a group of Japanese fans tirelessly tried to lift the spirits of their team by singing and beating the drums.

They were not a big bunch, but none from the rest of the fans in the 45,000 capacity Khalifa International Stadium in Doha were louder than them.

The intensity of their singing grew every time the Japanese players ran to get the ball out of their own half and make a foray into the German box.

Slowly, the Japanese team began to show more energy and flair in attack before turning the match into a riveting contest when substitute Ritsu Dosan found the equaliser in the 75th minute.

Sensing panic in the other half of the pitch after the equaliser, the Japanese pressed hard and eight minutes later Takuma Asano, another substitute, found the back of the net from a tight angle.

The Germans, comfortably placed in the first half after Manchester City star Gundogan’s goal from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute, were now playing for their lives.

Stunned by the fearlessness of the Japanese, the Germans regrouped and launched attacks after attacks in the closing stages of the game.

But Japan survived the intense pressure from Germany to record their sixth win in the World Cup, sparking incredible scenes on the field.

Amid the jubilant celebrations of the Japan players, the group of Japanese fans continued to sing and beat the drums, playing their own part in a historic victory for their country.

"Lots of our fans have come to Doha and they were behind us pushing us on tonight," Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said at the post-match press-conference.

Another upset

Little over 24 hours after Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina 2-1, the Qatar World Cup saw another stirring fightback from an underdog.

For Germany, four-time world champions, it was another painful defeat to an Asian team, four years after they were knocked out of the group stages in the 2018 World Cup by South Korea.

Remarkably, the Japanese goals on Wednesday were scored by players who play their club football in Germany.


Moriyasu admitted Germany has played a big role in the progress his country has made in football over the years.

But on Wednesday, it was his team’s never-say-die spirit that eventually dragged them over the line.

"The players came together as one team, we prepared well and we stuck in there, and that's what led to the win," the veteran coach said.

Japan will now fancy their chances against Costa Rica, who lost to Spain 7-0 in the other Group E match on Wednesday, in their next game.

Germany, on the other hand, could be knocked out of the group stages again if they lose to Spain in their next match.

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