Doha, Qatar – After Takuma Asano Japan scored second goal against Germany in their World Cup opener, there was a brief moment of silence at the Khalifa International Stadium.
The stunned German fans couldn’t believe what had just happened. The patient Japanese waited to see if an offside would be called.
Then, after the goal stood, it was a madhouse.
“I was jumping. I was screaming. I fell and hurt myself, but I don’t care,” Kayde, a 13-year-old Japanese fan, told Al Jazeera outside the stadium after the match.
Japan came from a goal behind to beat Germany 2-1 in the first match of Group E in Doha on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia. shocking victory over Argentina with the same score on Tuesday.
Germany had taken the lead in the 33rd minute when İlkay Gündoğan scored a penalty kick to crown a dominant performance. But they subsequently failed to convert several chances and had to pay by two second-half goals in the space of eight minutes from Ritsu Doan (75′) and Asano (83′).
Kayde and his father Takashi flew to Qatar from the United States to support their native country’s national team.
“It was incredible. When Japan scored the first goal, we were nervous because the Germans always come back stronger – but they didn’t,” Takashi said.
His fear did not end there. “When the added time showed up on the screen, I set a timer on my phone and stared at it until the referee blew his whistle.”
Another Japan fan, Knichi, who traveled to Qatar on his own, said he needed a moment to process what had just happened.
“Maybe I’ll go to the FIFA Fan Festival and find some Japanese fans to celebrate with, but I need a breather. My heart is racing,” he said, his hands moving in a wave.
Japan made its World Cup debut in 1998, but failed to progress past the first round. It crossed that hurdle when it co-hosted the tournament with South Korea in 2002, then again in 2010 and 2018.
The prevailing feeling among the Blue Samurai’s fans was one of disbelief, and Knichi said the victory against the 2014 world champions will go down as Japan’s best in the tournament’s history.
“If you had asked me for a prediction before the game, I would have said Japan is going to lose. A draw at best. A win? Won’t happen.”
A national holiday?
Kosuke, another Japanese, said his compatriots would be up all night at home.
“They will watch, party and then wait for tomorrow to be announced as a day off, just like Saudi Arabia,” he said in a nod to the Saudi government’s decision to declare Wednesday a holiday after their upset victory over Argentina.
Japanese fans who traveled to Qatar from their home countries and other parts of the world got their money’s worth on Wednesday and can now look forward to Japan’s next game against Costa Rica on Sunday.
Germany, meanwhile, takes on Spain, who beat Costa Rica 7-0 later on Wednesday.
The defeat to Japan brought painful flashbacks to their last World Cup campaign four years ago in Russia, when they failed to progress past the first round.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong for us,” Thomas, a German fan, told Al Jazeera, as more of his fellow fans trudged away in silence with slumped shoulders and flags folded.