The clock was nearing midnight when Takuma Asano rifled Japan’s winner into the roof of the net at Khalifa International Stadium in Doha – a result that had seemed impossible after a poor first half from Japan, playing in their seventh straight World Cup.
For fans over a certain age, the comeback 2-1 victory went some way towards banishing painful memories of another decisive match in Doha almost three decades ago. It was there that Japan came within minutes of qualifying for their first World Cup, only to be denied qualification for USA 1994 by a stoppage-time equaliser by their opponents, Iraq.
Wednesday’s victory sparked impromptu celebrations at the famous scramble crossing in Shibuya and calls for the prime minister, Fumio Kishida, to follow Saudi Arabia’s example by calling a…
This article was written by Justin McCurry in Tokyo and originally published on www.theguardian.com