DOHA: It is a memory that 34-year-old Taka Sato will never forget - seeing both his parents sobbing after a football match.And they weren't alone, for it is a date which most Japanese fans remember.On 28 October 1993, Japan came within seconds of qualifying for their first World Cup.But the Samurai Blue would concede a stoppage-time equaliser to Iraq, draw the game, and send South Korea through to the 1994 World Cup instead.The location of that loss?What is now known as the Hamad bin Khalifa stadium, a 20 minute drive away from the Khalifa International stadium where Japan would face Germany later on Wednesday evening (Nov 23)."It would have been the first time that Japan would have made the World Cup," he told CNA before Japan's match with Germany. "Everybody knows it."Mr Shuzu Chiba was one of the fans at that game.
He described it as the "Doha disaster"."All the Japanese fans were completely disappointed," recalled the 54-year-old. "Very, very sad.""I want to achieve our goals here in Doha, this time as a manager, and turn it into the 'Joy of Doha'," said head coach Hajime Moriyasu at the World Cup draw in April.Mr Chiba would still travel to watch the 1994 World Cup, but it would be a tournament without his team in it.Four years later, the Samurai Blue would eventually make their first World Cup.
This is their seventh appearance at the tournament since then.But Germany represented possibly the biggest test Japan has faced at the World Cup yet.
The Japanese team also have Spain to contend with, and play Costa Rica as well."We just want to do our best, and we hope we can win," said Mr Chiba.In an incredible game of football, a lacklustre Japan fell behind to first-half penalty from Ilkay Gundogan.But Moriyasu, a manRead more on channelnewsasia.com