Samurai Blue looks ahead, preps for next task at hand

Takuya Matsumoto / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, left, smiles with Japan teammates during training on Thursday in Doha.

DOHA — Flush from its jaw-dropping victory over Germany at the World Cup the previous night, the Japan national team has already started focusing on the next task at hand.

Samurai Blue was back on the practice field Thursday in Doha in preparation for Sunday’s Group E match against Costa Rica.

The mood was light as the players warmed up with casual jogging before going through a workout.

A victory over Costa Rica would almost assure that Japan will finish among the top two teams in the group and advance to the knockout stages. A draw or a loss makes the process more complicated.

“We won’t let down our guard, and will fight as a unit with renewed spirit,” veteran defender Yuto Nagatomo, 36, said.

In its opening match on Wednesday night, Japan scored two late goals to defeat four-time champion Germany 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.