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Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Japan revels in historic win
A fans shows off the front page of the newspaper in Tokyo's crowded streets
Victory was a historic moment for Japanese football
BBC Sport Online's chief football writer Phil McNulty, in Japan

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Japan is a nation gripped by World Cup expectation and optimism after coach Philippe Troussier guided them into the last 16 of the tournament.

Cities throughout Japan burst into scenes of ecstatic celebration as the 2-0 win against Tunisia sealed a meeting with Turkey.

Japan, regarded as rank outsiders as co-hosts, are now even eyeing the ultimate glory - with the national newspaper The Daily Yomiuri printing "Road to Yokohama" on its front page.

Sadly, not all the celebrations remained in the true tradition of Japanese reserve.

One of the biggest victims was Kentucky Fried Chicken and the world famous Colonel Sanders.

It now appears something of a Japanese tradition to deface the man intriguingly described in The Japan Times newspaper as "the bearded poultry icon" on days of great celebration.

The Colonel was whisked from a store in Kobe's Sannomiya entertainment district by a mob of men.

They then kicked the statue and made off with its hands.

A fan jumps into the river in Osaka
A fan jumps into the river in Osaka

It was a repeat of an incident in 1985 when, after a Hanshin Tigers triumph, a life-sized model of Colonel Sanders was stolen and thrown into the Dotonbori River.

The Colonel was replaced by Japan fans yesterday, with 500 hurling themselves into the river in joy, despite the presence of 400 police officers detailed to stop them.

Two fans who jumped in were arrested for exposing themselves, and the wild scenes ensued despite signs in six languages warning about the dangers of such celebrations.

"It's just great. I just want to burst with joy," said 16-year-old Osaka resident Yuya Yamamoto of Japan's latest triumph.

Japan's advance into the later stages of the competition has a more sinister side, with supporters so desperate for tickets that theft is on the increase.

A 19-year-old woman had a ticket for Japan's game with Belgium stolen when she was asked to produce it, and another man had his ticket robbed when he stopped at a vending machine.

The authorities took a compassionate line, allowing both fans into the Osaka stadium when they explained what had happened.

Money dealers at the Tokyo Stock Exchange were delighted
Money dealers at the Tokyo Stock Exchange were delighted

Even corporate Japan, not known for letting sport get in the way of big business, is now being swept along by World Cup fever.

Nissin Foods Co. set up a meeting room for 200 employees, with 92-year-old chairman Momofuku Ando - the inventor of the ramen noodle - leading the celebrations dressed in the team's kit.

And Japan Airlines got in on the act by setting up a large screen in the front offices of their Shinagawa Ward building in Tokyo, so that clients and employees who had the day off could watch the match.

The morning papers were full of triumphalist reports, with The Japan Times stating "Japan reaches World Cup milestone" and The Daily Yomiuri announcing "Japan races into the last 16."

Japan expects - and one can only imagine what a victory over Turkey would bring.


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