ドーハの奇跡 (dōha no kiseki, “The Miracle in/of Doha”) refers to Japan’s seismic underdog victories in FIFA World Cup 2022 over the two European powerhouses, Spain (on 1 Dec 2022) and Germany (on 23 Nov 2022). In both matches, Japan was losing 0-1 in the first half with a very low ball possession rate (e.g. 14% against Spain), yet turned the game around and defeated the opponents 2-1. As a consequence, against all odds, Japan became the winner of the group league and advanced to the round of 16, along with Spain; Germany and Costa Rica, on the other hand, were eliminated from the tournament.
This term was coined in contrast with ドーハの悲劇 (dōha no higeki, “Tragedy/Agony of Doha”) — the moniker for Japan’s shocking drew with Iraq in the World Cup qualification match held in Doha in 1993, where Japan regretfully let the chance slip through its fingers at the last minute to make its very first appearance at the World Cup. Although Japan was able to make it in the next four years, the tragedic memories lingered in many Japanese football fans’ minds for a long time; so will their joy over the miracle in 2022.
Notably, “The Miracle in Doha” was led by the head coach 森保一 (Hajime Moriyasu), who is one of the members of the so-called “Class of Doha” (ドーハ組, Dōha gumi), i.e. the players who experienced the unforgettable tragedy in 1993 on the pitch.
大金星 and 番狂わせ
Both 大金星 and 番狂わせ were used many times by the media to describe Japan’s giant-killing wins.
大金星 (だいきんぼし, daikinboshi) literally means “a big gold star” and figuratively “an upset; underdog victory; giant killing”. This term originates from Sumo and is often used to describe an upset in sports. 金星 (kinboshi) also has the same meaning, but it’s much more common to add 大 (dai, “big”) in front of them. It’s often used as 大金星を挙(あ)げる, meaning “to pull off an underdog victory”.
Similarly, 番狂わせ (ばんくるわせ, ban kuruwase) means “a surprising result that goes against all the odds”. Here, 番 means 順番 (“order”) and 狂わせ(る) means “to disturb/upset”. It’s often used as “番狂わせを起(お)こす” or “番狂わせを演(えん)じる”, meaning “to cause an upset”.
See the Wikipedia article for the details of “Tragedy/Agony of Doha”.
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