Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said not too long ago his team might have lost Wednesday's World Cup opener against Germany at the death, rather than claiming a stunning victory over the four-times world champions.
Two goals in the last 15 minutes gave Moriyasu's side a 2-1 win over the European giants and the perfect start to their bid to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time.
With stoppage time, they had to hold out for 15 minutes after taking the lead, bringing back memories of their loss in the last 16 of the last World Cup when they gave up a 2-0 lead against Belgium and lost to a stoppage time goal.
"At the end they came at us with the full power, in the past maybe we would have lost but the players have been playing in Germany and Europe they've learned so much from that, so we held on," Moriyasu told reporters.
"United as one, we needed to hang tough until the final whistle went and we were able to grasp our opportunity."
Japan World Cup 2022 squad
Goalkeepers: Shuichi Gonda, Daniel Schmidt, Eiji Kawashima
Defenders: Miki Yamane, Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ko Itakura, Shogo Taniguchi, Hiroki Ito, Yuto Nagatomo, Yura Nakayama
Midfielders: Wataru Endo, Hidemasa Morita, Ao Tanaka, Gaku Shibasaki, Kaoru Mitoma, Daichi Kamada, Ritsu Doan, Junya Ito, Takumi Minamino, Takefusa Kubo, Yuki Soma
Forwards: Daizen Maeda, Takuma Asano, Ayase Ueda
Who is their best player?
Going into the the tournament, Brighton newcomer Kaoru Mitoma had been dazzling for both his country, and his new club.
Former Brighton manager Graham Potter spoke about Mitoma after the winger made his debut as a substitute, claiming that he was "going to cause full-backs a problem".
"He has got that ability to go by people that is quite unique," Potter added.
In their 2-1 win against Germany it was goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda who took the official player of the match accolade, but Telegraph readers voted winning goalscorer Takuma Asano as their top performer.
What are Japan's fixtures and results?
November 23: Germany 1 Japan 2
November 27: Japan vs Costa Rica
December 1: Japan vs Spain
What is Japan's World Cup record?
Japan have appeared at every World Cup since 1998, and have progressed to the round 16 in 2002 – during the tournament they jointly hosted with South Korea – 2010, and 2018. 2018's iteration saw them exit the tournament after a particularly lively match against Belgium, who ended up finishing third in Russia.
In 2019, Japan competed in both the AFC Asian Cup, where they reached the final, losing to Qatar, and the Copa America, which they were invited to participate in for the second time.
Japan qualified for the 2022 World Cup by coming second in Group B of the AFC qualification tournament.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
Japan are currently a best price of 125/1 to win the World Cup.