With his assessment just before the start of this Winter World Championships, Wataru Endo should be completely correct. When WELT asked the Japanese midfielder about the prospects in Group E with games against such football heavyweights as Germany and Spain, the 29-year-old was quite self-confident: “We have a difficult group in which everything is possible,” he said. “Our goal is to finish in the last eight teams.”
The fact that in this group, which Endo perceived as difficult but definitely manageable, the supposedly lightest opponent thwarted Japan’s plans on Sunday afternoon in Doha – he probably wouldn’t have expected that at all either. After the surprising 2-1 win against Hansi Flick’s selection, coach Hajime Moriyasu’s team failed to increase the pressure on Germany, which will face Spain in the evening (8 p.m., live ticker on welt.de).
There was an unbelievable 0:1 (0:0) defeat against Costa Rica. Because a shot on target was enough for coach Luis Fernando Suarez’s team to succeed in front of 41,479 spectators in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium: Keysher Fuller hit the goal with a remarkable flick from 16 meters – and thus also into the heart of the Japanese (81.) .
The conquerors of Germany had been the much better team, had invested more, and the lead seemed only a matter of time. And yet Endo and Co. were the losers after the final whistle. Some players buried their anger under pulled-up jerseys. Costa Rica, who lost 7-0 to Spain in their first game, celebrated the win in front of a small but noisy crowd. Right in the middle: Hero Fuller.
The 28-year-old is actually a defender, has a market value of 250,000 euros and rarely appears in front of the opponent’s goal. In the 31st international match it was only the third goal for the right-back, who had so much feeling in his left foot in the decisive situation.
Fuller has been playing for CS Herediano in the Primera Division Clausura, Costa Rica’s top division, for four years. Should more exploits follow, such as that on day eight of the World Cup in Qatar, he should soon attract the interest of bigger clubs from bigger leagues. There’s still time: On Thursday (8 p.m.) Fuller will play with his team against Germany.