Jubilant Japan credit Saudi Arabia shock with inspiring World Cup upset against Germany

Japan’s players revealed they were inspired by Saudi Arabia’s shock triumph over Argentina, after pulling off their own seismic World Cup upset against Germany.

Japanese boss Hajime Moriyasu hailed a “historical moment” in the nation’s football story, as late goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano saw his side come from behind to beat the four-times winners.

The 2-1 win came 24 hours after Lionel Messi’s Argentina had been humbled by the Saudis in similar fashion — a match Japan’s players watched at their training base.

“Saudi Arabia inspired us a lot,” said Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma, who called the victory the best moment of his life. “They won the game and we thought we can win too, we can also have a great game.

“Our plan was to draw but, of course, we wanted to win. This game was incredible and we created history. It was unbelievable for me.”

Giant-killers: Japan celebrate their incredible World Cup upset of Germany in Doha (REUTERS)
Giant-killers: Japan celebrate their incredible World Cup upset of Germany in Doha (REUTERS)

Japan have qualified for every World Cup since making their debut in 1998, but this was their first tournament victory over a country that had won the competition.

Four years ago, Japan came close to reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, leading Belgium 2-0 with 21 minutes to play of their last-16 tie, only to be stunned by alate comeback and Nacer Chadli’s stoppage-time winner.

“It’s a historical moment,” said Moriyasu, who has set his sights on reaching the last-eight in Qatar. “If I’m thinking of the development of Japanese football, we have been building up and thinking of players.

“It’s a big surprise. We are reaching to the global standard and we saw the Saudi Arabians with a surprise win, so we are showing our capability of Asian football.

“This is not the end. We are not going to be the swing from happy to sad. We will reflect on it and prepare for the next game.”

Defeat for Germany in manager Hansi Flick’s first game at a major tournament suddenly leaves the 2014 winners in a position of peril in Group E.

Flick’s men face Spain, who thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 last night, on Sunday in their second game, by which time Japan will have had the chance to move to six points by beating the Central American nation.

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar | Best Images and Moments

Germany players pose with their hands covering their mouths as they line up for the team photos prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Germany players pose with their hands covering their mouths as they line up for the team photos prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match between Germany and Japan at Khalifa International Stadium (Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Costa Rica’s Jewison Bennette is tackled by Spain’s Rodri oduring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match at Al Thumama Stadium (Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Costa Rica’s Jewison Bennette is tackled by Spain’s Rodri oduring the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group E match at Al Thumama Stadium (Clive Mason/Getty Images)
England’s Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match v Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha (Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)
England’s Jude Bellingham celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match v Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha (Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images)
England’s Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling throw a rubber toy during a training session at Al Wakrah Stadium (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Bukayo Saka and Raheem Sterling throw a rubber toy during a training session at Al Wakrah Stadium (The FA via Getty Images)
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo during training (AFP via Getty Images)
Portugal’s forward Cristiano Ronaldo during training (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s Bukayo Saka in action with Iran’s Ali Karimi and Milad Mohammadi (REUTERS)
England’s Bukayo Saka in action with Iran’s Ali Karimi and Milad Mohammadi (REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari scores their second goal past Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari scores their second goal past Argentina’s Emiliano Martinez (Hannah McKay/Reuters)
Wales’ Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their equaliser v USA (REUTERS)
Wales’ Gareth Bale celebrates scoring their equaliser v USA (REUTERS)
A Cameroon fan waits for the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G l match v Switzerland (AFP via Getty Images)
A Cameroon fan waits for the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group G l match v Switzerland (AFP via Getty Images)
Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second goal v Argentina (REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia’s Salem Al-Dawsari celebrates scoring their second goal v Argentina (REUTERS)
Argentina Lionel Messi shows dejection during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match v Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium (Getty Images)
Argentina Lionel Messi shows dejection during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group C match v Saudi Arabia at Lusail Stadium (Getty Images)

That would leave Germany needing a point at the very least against Spain to avoid the humiliation of a second straight group-stage exit.

“In 2018 I was not part of the team, and I don’t really care to be honest,” said Flick, who took over from Joachim Low after last summer’s Euros. “I’m looking forward. We have to make up for it against Spain.”

Prior to kick-off, Germany’s players responded to FIFA’s ban on the OneLove armband by warming up in training shirts with rainbow-striped sleeves and then covering their mouths during a team photo in reference to being gagged by football’s global governing body.

“It’s important for us to do a statement like this,” said Chelsea forward Kai Havertz. “For us it was the right sign to do to show the people that we try to help wherever we can.”