What is a word that means support, in a sense of not actually doing any cheering or rooting for, but thinking that they are the best and will therefore win?
For context, I'm translating a WEBTOON (about a fighting tournament), and one of the characters declares that another character, in terms of strength, is a league above the competition. However, that character gets knocked out in a single blow from the main character. The text that I'm translating is basically a side note kind of thing explaining that that character is embarrassed that the one they were supporting got knocked out in a single punch.
My first thought was 応援, but that's more along the line of cheering/rooting for, and is a bit different. The other is 支持, but that's used more for support for a person's idea/claim. I was also thinking 推薦, but that's more along the lines of nominate, and the character didn't explicitly nominate the other character for anything position, just declared the characters strength is above the rest, and is therefore a strong candidate for victor.
Are there any words that would make sense in this scenario? It's not necessary that it be one word, but ideally, due to space constraints , I'm trying to have the translation be something along the lines of "第三話で----していた[character name]がワンパンされたことを恥じらっている, where ____ is the word I'm looking for.