Players from the Japan National Team, Samurai Blue, celebrate after an upset win against Germany. Photo: Google

By MARK LORENZANA

Another odds-on favorite lost in its first game in Qatar — a day after Saudi Arabia stunned powerhouse Argentina — as Germany squandered a 1-0 lead and ended up losing to Japan, 2-1, on Wednesday, Nov. 23. The Germans have not lost a World Cup match after taking the lead since the 1994 tournament, when Bulgaria won an upset against them at the Giants Stadium in New Jersey.

Again, just like the Argentina-Saudi Arabia match, Germany’s Ilkay Gundogan scored the club’s first goal on a penalty kick — much like Lionel Messi did against the Saudis — but the Japan National Team, also known as Samurai Blue, had the last laugh as Ritsu Doan tied the match in the 75th minute, before Takuma Asano scored the winning goal over German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

“Of course Germany is one of the best teams in the world,” Japan striker Kaoru Mitoma said. “But they have weaknesses.”

What made the Japan win even more impressive was that it only had 24 percent possession throughout the game, but evidently took advantage of its opportunities.

The loss isn’t the end of the world for the Germans, but they will next face a Spanish team oozing with confidence after administered a drubbing on Costa Rica, 7-0. Spain and Japan now have three points apiece in Group E, and zero points for Germany and Costa Rica.

Meanwhile, FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Mexican Football Association after alleged homophobic chants by Mexican fans during the scoreless draw with Poland on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

FIFA has alleged that fans directed homophobic slurs after Poland team captain Robert Lewandowski had his penalty kick blocked by Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

Ecuador will likewise face proceedings from FIFA for similar offensive chants against some Chilean fans in the South American team’s 2-0 win against Qatar on Sunday, Nov. 20.

This is not the first time Mexico has faced disciplinary action for the behavior — or misbehavior — of its fans. During the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, the Mexican Football Federation received 12 sanctions — two warnings and 10 fines — for repeated homophobic and offensive chants by Mexican fans, who just can’t seem to help themselves, even if it is to the detriment of their home team.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has opened proceedings against the Mexican Football Association due to chants by Mexican supporters during the Mexico vs. Poland FIFA World Cup match played on 22 November,” FIFA said in an official statement.

“The proceedings were opened on the basis of Article 13 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.”

Potential sanctions in the code include playing a match without spectators or a ban on playing in a particular stadium.

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