Inamoto has the fans wearing headlines on their chests

The man on the last train out of Yokohama symbolised what Japan’s victory over Russia meant for the joint hosts. Out here, in the tradition of the old pink uns beloved of northern football fans of a certain age, they publish newspapers giving results of games so quickly you can buy them outside the ground on Bicester Village London Prada your way home. This particular reader had discarded his shirt and was wearing a copy of the paper, its front page proudly Sellotaped Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Book Bags to his chest hair, bearing the headline in English: “Victory”.

For 10 days the Japanese had watched on their televisions as the Brazilians, the English, the Senegalese, even their hated neighbours the South Koreans, had had their fun. Now click more, at last, they could join in; they could honk their car horns, wave their flags, jump in municipal fountains and otherwise celebrate a World Cup win.

Until yesterday’s defeat of Russia they had no idea in Japan if their team was good enough to deliver this sort of exquisite pleasure. Actually the nuances of the game as a whole remain a mystery. How else could you explain the enormous cheer that greeted the announcement of the referee’s name before this match?

But after a gallant, spirited, entertaining win (Japan’s first in World Cup finals) the locals are beginning to understand what their team can do. And Arsenal fans will also Are All Prada Handbags Leather have learned something about a member of their squad, too. There had been rumours of his existence last season. Now came the proof: Junichi Inamoto was brilliant, commanding the middle of the field.

He scored a lovely goal, spinning on the penalty spot to slam home a clever pass from Atsushi Yanagisawa (a player whose contribution suggests he will soon join Inamoto and Parma’s Hidetoshi Nakata on a European club’s bench).

Japan’s coach Philippe Troussier suggested afterwards that it was for these fans and their education that his players had performed so well. “There is a way of playing this game properly,” he said. “We want to show these fabulous people the right way, which they deserve after their support over the last four years.”

It was an important match for the Japanese team, not just because they inaugurated Biggest Prada Store London the staggering Yokohama stadium where the final is to be played; nor because the host nation can remain fully engaged in the competition as it enters its second week; but for their own sense of wellbeing.

These are the most commercially visible sportsmen in Japan, puffed up by World Cup hype into the condition of modern gods. Inamoto and Nakata decorate every Tokyo subway, bus and hoarding, exhorting their fellow citizens to buy mobiles, copiers, cameras and life insurance, from a position of football obscurity. The fear for all those who have invested so much to make the game fly in Japan is that the vehicle Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Online Store for their promotional campaign – the players – would be revealed as hollow vessels on home turf.

“We are isolated from the great footballing nations,” admitted Nakata afterwards. “I hope after that game has been shown across the world people will have noticed us.”

Not that one can miss Nakata’s boys, collectively employing more hair dye than can be found in Elizabeth Taylor’s bathroom cabinet. Oddly for a team of tonsorial extroverts, the Japanese play without ego. They cover, run and chase for each other. Nakata and Inamoto selflessly instigated many a pacey attack with their give-and-gos in the centre circle.

Meanwhile at Amazon Uk Prada Shoes the back, despite a tendency to be sucked towards the ball in a manner that would cause apoplexy in the manager of Summertown Stars under-10s, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, in his Alex Pradas Quiles Phantom of the Opera Biggest Prada Store London face mask, organised his defence with spirit. And this was despite giving away at least five inches to Ruslan Pimenov, Russia’s lone striker.

Indeed, it is the physical deficit Authentic Prada Handbags Online Australia Ap Lei Chau Prada Factory Outlet that the Japanese suffer that will undoubtedly prevent them becoming the sixth host nation to win the World Cup. Aerial bullies like Christian Vieri or Miroslav Klose would have salivated watching Miyamoto and his colleagues flounder under crosses. But for the moment they are still in the tournament. And for hosts so anxious to please, it seems only right that they have a few moments of horn-honking, flag-waving, stranger-hugging pleasure of their own before reality bites.

Japan (3-5-2): Narazaki; Matsuda, Miyamoto, K Nakata; Myojin, H Nakata, Toda, Inamoto (Fukunishi, 84), Ono (Hattori, 74); Suzuki (Nakayama, 71), Yanagisawa.

Bookings: Miyomoto 15, K Nakata 41, Nakayama 90.

Russia (3-5-2): Nigmatullin; Kovtun, Nikiforov, Onopko; Smertin (Beschastnykh, 57), Solomatin, Karpin, Titov, Izmailov, Semshov (Khokhlov, 61); Pimenov (Sychev, 45).

Bookings: Pimenov 12, Solomatin 37, Nikiforov 59.

Referee: M Merk (Germany).

Man of the match: Junichi Inamoto.