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World Cup: Japan fans drown sorrows after exit

Groggy Japan fans reacted with sadness on Wednesday after watching their team exit the World Cup, some deciding to numb the pain after the horror show with one more drink.

TOKYO: Groggy Japan fans reacted with sadness on Wednesday after watching their team exit the World Cup, some deciding to numb the pain after the horror show with one more drink.

Having watched the Blue Samurai crushed 4-1 by a rampant Colombia, it was little wonder blue-clad fans who had been drinking all night opted to have another for the road.

"Why, why, why?" wailed sales assistant Mami Shibata, 24, slumped on the floor with her face poking over the top of a table at a Tokyo bar. "I've had enough of the World Cup."

Her exasperation was shared by many as they stared into their glasses following the game, which kicked off at 5:00 am Japanese time.

"Let's be honest, it was like boys against men," said computer programmer Akinori Higashi, 40. "Colombia were so quick and strong, the Japanese players just bounced off them. They were too good."

Japan picked up just one point against Ivory Coast, Greece and Colombia in Brazil after reaching the last 16 four years ago.

The Japanese government also weighed in on the team's elimination.

"It's a huge disappointment," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. "My predictions were way off. Italy and England also went out. I'd like to say thank you to the Japan players and coaching staff."

Jewellery designer Masako Honda tried in vain to stifle her sobs while watching Japan midfielder Keisuke Honda's tearful post-match interview.

"Honda said we could win the World Cup," said the 32-year-old, shaking her head in disbelief that Japan's talisman failed to fulfil his promise to the nation. "I expected better results."

Many Japan fans reacted more philosophically.

Sitting on a curb sipping quietly from a beer can, cycle shop employee Masahiro Doi, 36, said: "You get so revved up because it's the World Cup. You believe the hype. But it's not the end of the world."

Bars were plunged into silence after Colombia turned on the power in the second half in Cuiaba, scoring three times to extinguish Japan's faint hopes of advancing to the knockout stage.

"It's not like I even like football that much," grumbled Shibata, finally standing up and preparing to leave. "The World Cup is different. It's an excuse for a party and now we're out."

Jaws hit the floor as Colombia's fourth goal flew in and a Japanese television commentator helpfully pointed out: "This is a tough situation now."

A TV report presenting computer data showing Japan had "dominated" their opponents triggered howls of derision from stragglers as salarymen began filing past the window of the bar on their way to work.

"Seriously, look at Colombia: shoot, goal," said mechanic Yuichi Sakai, 28. "Japan don't have anyone who frightens opponents.

"The only data that matters is how many times you stick the ball in the net."

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