Japan will “fight like samurai” in Monday’s World Cup last-16 clash with Croatia as they battle to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, defender Yuto Nagatomo said. Japan reached the knockout round after stunning Germany and Spain to top Group E but they are not satisfied with what they have achieved so far in Qatar.
Veteran Nagatomo is appearing at his fourth World Cup and he urged his teammates to “show the samurai spirit to the world” against Croatia.
“Before battle, the samurai would polish their weapons and refine their technique, but if they were scared in battle, all that would count for nothing,” the former Inter Milan left-back said Sunday.
“It’s the same as football. Of course tactics and technique are important, but if we’re scared, it doesn’t matter how much we’ve trained over the past four years because our technique will be no use.
“The most important thing is to have courage,” the 36-year-old added.
Japan have reached the last 16 at three previous World Cups but they have yet to make it as far as the quarterfinals.
They were eliminated at the first knock-out round four years ago in Russia when they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Belgium with the last kick of the game.