Samurai Blue midfielder Ritsu Doan: “Sorry to the people of Japan”

Takuya Matsumoto / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan midfield Ritsu Doan vies for the ball during the round-of-16 match against Croatia on Monday.

DOHA — Following Japan’s loss to Croatia on penalties in the round of 16 at the World Cup, Samurai Blue midfielder Ritsu Doan apologized for the team’s performance.

“Sorry to the people of Japan,” said Doan, who started the match after having scored as a substitute against Germany and Spain to help Japan top its group.

Before the tournament, Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu had set a target for his team to make at least the quarterfinals, which would have been a first for the men’s team.

In the match against 2018 World Cup runner-up Croatia, Doan’s cross from the right caused havoc in front of the Croatian goal, allowing striker Daizen Maeda to pounce on the ball to give Japan a 1-0 lead in the 43rd minute.

From then on however, Croatia’s stout defense stymied the Samurai Blue.

“There weren’t many chances,” Doan said.

“We had received a lot of support,” Doan said, “and we wanted to live up to those expectations.”