‘Leadership controversy’ Wataru Endo (Liverpool) has finally bowed out.

Endo posted on his personal social networking site, “Thank you for your support at the Asian Cup. It was a tournament that reminded me that it’s not easy to be first in something, whether it’s a big tournament or a small one. I think the Iranian players’ play and the atmosphere in the stadium created by the Iranian supporters deserved the victory. As captain, I’m thinking about what we need to do to make the Japan A team stronger in the future. Please continue to fight together to achieve the big goal of winning the World Cup. 텍사스홀덤 Thank you for your continued support.

The Japan national soccer A team, led by Hajime Moriyasu, is one of the favorites to win the Qatar Asian Cup. Japan filled 20 of its 26 final roster spots with Europeans. The mood was right: Japan had been on an upward curve since the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They went on an unbeaten streak in A matches, starting with a 6-0 win over El Salvador last June.

Japan went 2-1 in Group D against Vietnam (4-2), Iraq (1-2), and Indonesia (3-1). It wasn’t a great performance, and the Europeans managed to squeak out a victory thanks to their dominant individual performances. Japan was favored to win the group, but finished second.

Ahead of the round of 16 match against Bahrain on March 31, a huge change occurred. Junya Ito (Reims) withdrew due to “alleged sexual offenses”. Ahead of the match, Japanese media reported that Ito was facing criminal charges for allegedly committing a sexual offense. Ito was only named on the substitutes’ bench for the round of 16 match against Bahrain after the report. In the process, the Japan Football Association (JFA) was criticized for its “erratic administration.

In a press conference, Moriyasu said, “I would like to refrain from pushing Ito too hard. He is a very good player in Asia. If he can’t play, it will affect the development of Asian soccer. I hope you will support him (in the future) so that he can show that he can fight the world as an Asian player.” On the field, Moriyasu’s comments were criticized for being flippant, as they could have caused secondary damage.

Japan collapsed in the quarterfinals against Iran on March 3. The Japanese took a 1-0 lead through Hidemasa Morita (Sporting) in the 28th minute of the first half, but conceded a goal to Mohammad Mohebi 10 minutes into the second half. Japan lost 2-1 in stoppage time when Ko Itakura (Mönchengladbach) conceded a penalty after being fouled in the box by Hossein Kanani.

The aftermath of the elimination was intense. Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal) said, “When the team is not doing well, you have to change the atmosphere with your voice and play. How many players are willing to change that, and honestly, I didn’t feel that power,” he said. According to Japanese media outlet Tokyo Sports Online, Moriyasu responded to Tomiyasu’s comments by saying, “I realize that the way we talk to players is completely different due to the cultural differences between Europe and Japan. We need to think about matching each other’s capabilities. I think it’s the way we use words.”

Japanese reporters were also outraged. As he packed his bags after the elimination, reporter A said, “There is no leadership like Son Heung-min in Japan. Wataru Endo (Liverpool) is not comparable. Even when the Ito incident happened, there was no clear leadership. That’s the difference. There is no leadership like Son Heung-min, who gives strength to his teammates in times of crisis. I want Korea to win,” he said angrily.

It was at this point that Endo bowed his head. According to the online edition of Japanese media outlet Tokyo Sports, fans reacted with words like “hard work” and “honor”.