Maya Yoshida played the full 90 minutes of Japan’s goalless draw with Greece in his side’s second Group C match of the World Cup finals.
Japan lost their opening game against Ivory Coast, but this point earned in Natal keeps their last 16 dreams alive, though they will need to beat leaders Colombia on Tuesday to have any chance of going through.
However, drawing a blank against the Greeks will seem like a missed opportunity for Samurai Blue who were given a couple of boosts in the first half with Greece losing Fulham striker Konstantinos Mitroglou to injury, and then having captain Konstanitos Katsouranis sent off for a lunge at Makoto Hasebe in the 38th minute.
Unsurprisingly, Japan dominated from then on, but could not find a way through, with Yoshida often breaking forward from the back to try and force a winner, to no avail.
Japan will need to start firing again if they are to stand any chance of progressing, with defender Yoshida expressing his disappointment at not capitalising on the misfortune of their latest opponents.
“Greece were very strong at the back,” the Saints man told FIFA.com. “When they went a man down they shut up shop even more, and that made it much more difficult to get our game going.”
Although his side threw caution to the wind in the second 45, Yoshida added that Japan must stick to their principles if they are to be successful in their all-important final group game against Colombia.
“Even so, we can’t go changing our style in our next game,” he said. “We need to keep playing the same way, but show much more belief in our play and a little extra in attacking areas.”