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Soccer: Japan's World Cup team sends boys good luck wish

Family members smile each other near a cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach are trapped, in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai province, in northern Thailand, on July 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

MAE SAI, Thailand (AP) -- The Japanese squad that competed at soccer's World Cup in Russia has tweeted a good-luck message to the 12 members of a youth soccer team trapped with their coach in a cave in northern Thailand. The message delivered from the @jfa_samuraiblue urged them in Japanese: "Don't give up! Hang on!" and in English "Hang on! Football Family are with you."

A Thai navy SEAL who has spent time with the boys in the cave has said they asked about the World Cup results.

Japanese Football Association president Kohzo Tashiima afterward praised the national team for sending the public message of support, saying "Japanese players have grown to be able to do these kinds of things naturally, and I realize that Japanese soccer is becoming mature."

"I would like to pray with everyone here so that they are safely rescued," he added at a news conference at Japan's Narita airport. Japan was knocked out of the Cup competition when they were beaten 3-2 by Belgium in the round of 16.

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