North Korea and VfL Bochum striker Jong Tae-Se was despondent following Japan's last-minute 1-0 victory over his team at Saitama Stadium on Friday.
The forward, known as "the People's Rooney", had been replaced late in the game before his close friend Maya Yoshida popped up to score the dramatic late winner for Japan.
"We could have got a draw. We understood that we didn't have many [scoring] chances, but it's very disappointing that we didn't take home a point," Jong told reporters after the game.
With North Korea a man down, Jong was replaced by An Chol-Hyok in the 90th minute as his side struggled to hold back Japan's ferocious attacks.
The effort was in vain, however, as Hiroshi Kiyotake's cross was superbly headed by Yoshida to give Japan a lead in the third minute of stoppage time.
Japanese broadcasters immediately trained their cameras on Jong, who could be seen burying his face into a towel.
Jong and Yoshida, who plays for Eredivisie's VVV Venlo, are close friends and are known to visit each other's homes in Germany.
"This is the first time my team's been scored on by Yoshida, and it really does hurt," Jong said. "But I can't be disappointed forever, because we absolutely have to win next Tuesday against Tajikistan."
Looking back on the game-winning scene, Yoshida told reporters: "I was completely unmarked, so I was able to see where all of [North Korea's] players were in front of the goal."
Yoshida scored his second goal on the international stage on the same day he earned his his seventh cap for Japan.
The defender also spoke of his close relationship with injured striker Keisuke Honda, with whom he played with at Nagoya Grampus and VVV Venlo before Honda moved to CSKA Moscow.
Honda advised Yoshida to keep up his training regimen during the European off-season, telling the 23-year-old that: "[You're] young, so it doesn't matter if you don't take a day off."
Yoshida laughed when discussing the incident, telling assembled reporters that: "If we didn't win, [Honda] would have called me to complain."
Yoshida received several offers from Eastern European clubs during the transfer window but chose to stay with Venlo because he hasn't fulfilled my potential in Holland yet.
With Honda out for three months after requiring surgery on his injured knee, Yoshida and the rest of the Samurai Blue will bear heavier burdens as they continue with their World Cup qualifying campaign.