THE WORLD CUP may be over for Junichi Inamoto, but Japan coach Philippe Troussier has urged the Asian side to take pride in their performances in the tournament.
Co-hosts Japan bowed out in the second round after losing 1-0 to Turkey, who now progress to the quarter-finals where they will face Senegal.
Inamoto played a key role in helping his national side qualify from the group stages with goals against Russia and Belgium to send the home fans wild with excitement.
And manager Troussier, who has announced that he will now step down from his role, believes Japan can become a major force in world football over the next few years.
"The Japanese adventure has come to an end, but our first success was to qualify for the second round," Troussier said.
"We certainly showed that we can play with other big teams. We tried to score, we played attacking football. We showed pride, we are a young and ambitious team and will start to look forward to 2006.
"Unfortunately, we lack experience but there is still progress to be made. The Japanese players should believe in their potential and their ability to play.
"We have received the recognition of European football for our progress. We played among the best. I certainly hope that we continue to go forward, and hope that the JFA will keep the same commitment for preparation and move ahead. The team has proved they can play with the best."Copyright 2015 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 18 Jun 2002