Football: Japan arrive for blockbuster clash with Brazil at the National Stadium

Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs befor
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs before they were whisked off.-- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions are in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Fans awaiting the arrival of Japan's national soccer team at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. About 300 fans turned up, with about 200 of them Japanese. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Fans awaiting the arrival of Japan's national soccer team at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. About 300 fans turned up, with about 200 of them Japanese. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs befor
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs before they were whisked off. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs befor
Japan's national football team arriving at Changi Airport on Oct 11, 2014. The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs before they were whisked off. -- PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Even without injured star Shinji Kagawa and their arrival kept a secret, the Japan football national team still enjoyed a thunderous welcome in Singapore on Saturday evening.

Touching down at Changi Airport Terminal 2 just after 8pm, the Samurai Blue were warmly greeted by some 300 fans.

The Asian Cup champions, in town to play Brazil at the National Stadium on Tuesday, were smartly attired in dark suits and obliged their supporters by signing autographs before they were whisked off.

AC Milan attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda, with his blond hair and sunglasses, was easily the most popular player. Striker Shinji Okazaki was another player who received a warm reception.

However, the Samurai Blue's arguably biggest star, Borussia Dortmund's Kagawa, has pulled out from the squad after reporting concussion-like symptoms following a head injury during Friday's 1-0 friendly win over Jamaica in Niigata.

Still, Japanese fans are expected to number more than half of the estimated 55,000 capacity crowd at the National Stadium.

The Japanese Association of Singapore estimates there are 31,000 Japanese here. In contrast, there are 860 Brazilians in the Republic, according to a census by the embassy of Brazil in March.

Tsuyoshi Nagao, who was at Jalan Besar in 2004, described that evening as "a magical occasion" - and is confident his compatriots will join him in force to support the Samurai Blue on Tuesday.

Nagao, a 50-year-old deputy general manager with a Japanese construction company, will be leading a group of about 50 Japanese fans - including his 16-year-old son Hikaru and 13-year-old daughter Minami, members of his football teams, FC Changi Tuesday and FC Jepun Hitam, plus their families and friends - to be part of the Ultra Nippon contingent at the National Stadium.

"There are a lot of Japanese people in Singapore, so I'm sure many of them will come down to fill at least half the stadium," said Nagao confidently.

"How we help our team is through our respect and loyalty, which is highly emphasised in our culture and rarely seen elsewhere.

"We don't jeer our national team, even when they are not performing on the pitch and that can help lift their spirits better than criticism sometimes."