After pulling off a shock win over four-time champions Germany in their FIFA World Cup opener, Japan will be eyeing a win against Costa Rica in Group E to seal a place in the knockout stages. Japan’s victory has been compared to Japan’s 34–32 upset win over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Japan, who landed as ‘underdogs’ against a top team like Germany, will be favorites against Costa Rica and a win in this will take them to the knockout stage with one match to spare. Costa Rica were beaten 0-7 by Spain in their opening match and a loss to Japan on Sunday would eliminate them from the tournament. Costa Rica face Germany in their last match and Japan face Spain. Costa Rica, with a population of close to half a million people, is playing in its sixth World Cup.
The tiny Central American country reached the quarterfinals in 2014 in Brazil. On the other hand, Japan’s team has never reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup, so this time it will be determined to do so. The team is playing in its seventh consecutive World Cup and has reached the Round of 16 three times, including at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu is talking about taking the team to the quarterfinals this time.
Substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored in the final against Germany, both of whom play in Germany’s Bundesliga. After the defeat against Spain, Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez said, “We could not complete three or four passes.” This will give Costa Rica a tough challenge to keep the ball in front of Japan.