Japan's salarymen knock back coffee after snore draw

Japan's salarymen knock back coffee after snore draw

TOKYO - Bleary-eyed salarymen gulping energy drinks and coffee rushed to work after waking up early Friday to watch Japan's 0-0 World Cup draw with Greece, many facing a long, clock-watching day at the office.

Already in shirts and ties, some wished they hadn't bothered as they trudged off to catch trains after a tepid stalemate that left Japan's World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.

"I had a cheeky shandy before kick-off," salesman Ryo Yamagishi, 32, told AFP, wearing a crisp white shirt and sipping black coffee as the final whistle blew.

"I woke up at five. I'm fed up Japan can't find the back of the net."

A few tables away at a crowded bar in Tokyo's fashionable Shibuya district, 34-year-old graphic designer Kazu Maeda shook his head in disbelief after Japan failed to beat 10-man Greece.

"Japan needs a striker like (Luis) Suarez," he said sheepishly, referring to Uruguay's two-goal hero who saw off England earlier.

"I'm gutted. I've been drinking Red Bull since six this morning. It's going to be a long day."

Student Michiru Imai, sporting a Japan jersey and football-shaped earrings, had tears in her eyes, although she admitted they could have been caused by alcohol.

"No school tomorrow so we've been drinking all game," said the 22-year-old, one of a group of six.

"I was sure Japan would win. I feel like I've been dumped by my boyfriend."

Japan, who reached the last 16 four years ago, were beaten 2-1 by Ivory Coast in their Group C opener and must now beat Colombia in their final first-round game to stand any chance of advancing.

Resigned to early exit

As the Blue Samurai huffed and puffed against the Greeks, many fans resigned themselves to an early exit.

"I don't think we can beat Colombia," said Jun Nishijima, 30, employed by an online shopping company.

"The South American teams look too strong. I'm not sure I'm even going to watch."

Florist Maki Inamoto took photos with her phone as police cordoned off Shibuya's iconic "scramble" crossroads to prevent hundreds of blue-clad fans risking injury or upsetting commuters.

"I'm exhausted," said the 35-year-old, who had been glued to the television screen with a grimace etched across her face as chance after chance went begging.

"It's the emotional stress more than anything."

With Japan not yet mathematically out of the World Cup, few fans were playing the blame game, but restaurateur 'Terry' Uesaka did not mince words.

"Talk, talk, talk," said the 44-year-old, nursing a scotch. "All talk and no end result. My grandmother would have more chance of scoring."

As fans mingled with salarymen rattling along Tokyo's underground after the match, the smell of alcohol was unmistakable.

"(Shinji) Kagawa is so cool," offered nail artist Yurie Kanemoto, 24, whose difficulty standing unaided prompted disapproving looks from fellow passengers.

"I don't understand why he didn't start. If he had, Japan would have won," she added.

Spare a thought, however, for poor Michelle Aihara, 23, who had woken up at 3 am to watch England, where she was born, then Japan, where she lives, before beginning a waitressing shift.

"Oh my God, I wish I hadn't bothered," she said. "England, then Japan. I just want to go back to bed - but I'd get the sack."

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