Samurai Blue back on practice field to prep for making history

Takuya Matsumoto / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ao Tanaka, center, practices in Doha on Saturday to prepare for the match against Croatia.

DOHA — Members of Japan’s national soccer team were back on the training field in Doha on Saturday to prepare for Monday’s match against Croatia, in a bid to make the FIFA World Cup quarterfinals for the first time.

The Samurai Blue defeated Spain on Thursday, advancing to the knockout phase of the tournament as the winners of Group E.

In the training session, held after a rest day following the upset win over Spain, the players looked relaxed as they warmed up with running and other activities before having a closed-door practice.

“I want to make history with the help of many people,” said midfielder Ao Tanaka, who netted the go-ahead goal against Spain.