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Japan coach Philippe Troussier has paid tribute to his players believing they can use their success in this tournament as a springboard for the 2006 World Cup.

“It’s the end of an adventure, a beautiful adventure,” said the French coach who had agreed to stand down from his post at the end of the tournament.

“This Japanese team has laid the foundations for the future. Now they must use it as a springboard to the 2006 World Cup.”

Japan were knocked out by Turkey, courtesy of a Umit Davala headed goal and although Japan rarely looked like scoring, Troussier refused to criticise his players.

“We tried for a goal, we tried very hard. We certainly showed our pride and ambition. We tried to regroup but it was very difficult,” he explained.

“I am proud to be coach of this team and it has been an honour for me to wear the Japanese colours for four years. I thank all those who have helped and supported me. The players, the staff.

“Bravo to this worthy team which always believed in its chances. Throughout the match Japan showed they are capable of holding their own with the best teams in the world,” he added.

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