Soccer-With last 16 in sight, Japan look to inflict more misery on Costa Rica


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By Anita Kobylinska

DOHA - Few would have given Japan much chance of getting out of a group that included Germany and Spain when the World Cup draw was made but a win over Costa Rica on Sunday would leave Hajime Moriyasu's side on the brink of the last 16.

The Japanese came from behind to beat four-times champions Germany on Wednesday and will face a Costa Rica side reeling from their 7-0 thrashing by Spain in their Group E opener.

For Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez, rebuilding his side's shattered confidence is the priority.

"I'm worried that mentally the team won't get out of this slump, this bad result," he said after the defeat. "Logically, that's the first thing I have to try to solve.

"We have to take responsibility for what happened but once we all talk about it, we need to forget about it."

To help him lift the side, the coach will turn to the few veterans from their 2014 campaign when they reached the quarter-finals after topping a group that also featured England, Italy and Uruguay.

Things look much more promising for Japan, who produced the second major shock of the 2022 World Cup so far with their 2-1 comeback win over Germany.

The Japanese were helped by six Bundesliga players and one more playing in Germany's second tier, as strikes from Freiburg's Ritsu Doan and VfL Bochum's Takuma Asano gave the Asian side their first ever win over Germany.

Costa Rica, who suffered their heaviest ever defeat at the World Cup finals, are unlikely to provide as stiff a test as the Germans.

Spain lie in wait for Japan in their final group game but Moriyasu knows Sunday's result may mean there is little riding on it.

(Reporting by Anita Kobylinska; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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