Win over Spain forgotten as Japan looks ahead to Croatia in World Cup last 16

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DOHA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Japan forward Ao Tanaka may have become a hero scoring his side's winner against Spain, but with a last 16 match against Croatia giving Japan the chance to make history on Monday, he insists he and his teammates are not dwelling on the past.

The forward's winning goal against Spain was given after a long VAR check and that victory allowed them to finish as group leaders. A win for Japan on Monday would take them into the quarterfinals for the first time in their history and Tanaka is now totally focused on that target.

"All of us have forgotten everything," Tanaka told ESPN in regard to the Spain game.

"Of course, we were so happy to win that last game, as well as the one against Germany, but we don't care about that any more."

"Japan has never reached the quarterfinals [of the World Cup] so the next game is the most important for us. We need to prepare and focus on the next game," he insisted.

The arrival of substitutes Kaoru Mitoma and Ritsu Doan just after halftime sparked Japan's fightback against Spain, and Tanaka admitted the depth of their squad meant he was not assured a start on Monday.

"We do have good players in every position. Of course, I would like to start every game but we don't know who the coach will decide to play in the next game. If it is me, you can be sure I'll do my best on the pitch," he promised. Enditem

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