Japan star Ritsu Doan has expressed his gratitude to fans after being knocked out of the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup last-16 stage.
The Samurai Blue were eliminated from the quadrennial tournament after slumping to a penalty shootout defeat against Croatia on Monday (5 December). After Ivan Perisic canceled out Daizen Maeda's opening goal, Croatia emerged triumphant 3-1 on penalties.
Doan, 24, featured in 87 minutes of action for his national team against the 2018 FIFA World Cup runners-up. He completed 18 passes and one dribble, registered one shot, and won six duels during the contest.
After the end of the fixture, Doan posted on Twitter:
"Thank you very much to all of my teammates, team staff, and most of all, the Japanese people who supported me from Japan. It's a frustrating result, but I'm going to take the reality and move forward."
Doan, who plies his trade for SC Freiburg at the club level, ended his 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with two goals from four matches. He shot to fame after guiding his team to the top of Group E with two equalizers in 2-1 victories over Germany and Spain, respectively.
A left-footed attacker blessed with flair and dribbling, Doan has netted four goals and contributed as many assists in 22 appearances across all competitions for Freiburg in the ongoing 2022-23 season.
Croatia, on the other hand, will face five-time champions Brazil in their 2022 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match on Friday (9 December).
Zlatko Dalic comments on Croatia's thrilling 2022 FIFA World Cup win over Japan
"We are among the eight best teams in the world deservedly because we won in a difficult game. We have celebrated it for a while at the hotel. It doesn't need special analysis. We played well, as we should have. In the first half, we imposed our style of play and then we got unnecessarily nervous with a couple of mistakes."
Sharing his thoughts on their next opponents, Dalic added:
"Brazil is the strongest and best team in the tournament. When you look at their players one by one, the depth of the squad and their quality, it's scary. We have a great test ahead of us, a team that competes and has so many good players. We will need to start the game well. We have nothing to fear, we have to keep faith."