But when the final whistle went with Belgium winning 3-2 to end Japan's latest shot at World Cup history, fans sat in virtual silence, staring in disbelief at the screen. "We have top players and we play as a group, especially after the win over England", said the Chelsea star.
"When we were 2-0 up, and I didn't change my players, I really wanted to score another goal and we did have opportunities".
However, Belgium fought back from two down to eventually advance to the quarter-finals thanks to a goal in the dying stages by substitute Nacer Chadli.
Brazil play their first Round of 16 match as one the favorites to hoist the trophy in Russian Federation.
"I don't think the players were to blame, I think it was me who might have lost control of the game", Nishino said.
"We'll see tomorrow", Hazard said on Sunday, when asked if the long break would disrupt the players.
Which TV channels will broadcast the FIFA World Cup 2018 Brazil vs Mexico, Belgium vs Japan football matches in India?
The Red Devils went in goalless at half-time against the Central American minnows, and team captain Hazard took Lukaku to one side to encourage the Manchester United target man to get more involved in the game. "The person who wants to beat me has a massive task, doesn't he?"
However, Martinez warned that Japan, who scraped into the last 16 because they had a better disciplinary record than Senegal, could hurt his team. "Japan are a different team to Wales, we'll learn the lessons".
"Maybe Belgium feel the tournament is starting after their three wins, but I'd like to feel we are on a par with them".
Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, a European champion with Portugal two years ago, will be 37 by the time the next global showpiece rolls around - meaning it is unlikely he will improve on a run to the semi-finals in 2006. Coach Tite insists his talisman is now approaching his best form again, four months after undergoing surgery on a fractured foot.