Japan milks 'fair play' system in World Cup first

Japan milks 'fair play' system in World Cup first

Japan milks 'fair play' system in World Cup first

Rotating his squad ahead of their final group tie, Nishino's Japan never truly found their rhythm against a Poland side playing with a greater degree of freedom, however, and fell behind early on in the second-half.

Once Colombia had scored in Samara, Japan knew it had done enough to advance even though it was losing late in its match. Japanese coach Akira Nishino might be tempted to drop Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima after his poor performance against Senegal.

"I chose to keep the status quo in our game, and rely instead on the other result. It's the World Cup, and sometimes these things can't be avoided", he said after the game.

Poland who came close to scoring the game's second goal as Lewandowski spurned his only chance of the match so far, appearing to lose his footing somewhat as he fired over the bar from close range.

Japan lost to Poland but qualified for the World Cup round of 16 by virtue of a better disciplinary record than Group F rivals Senegal.

"It was a day when Japan became pragmatic at the World Cup", Yamamoto said, adding, "I want the players to switch their mindset for the next round and put in a performance that they can proudly show to children aspiring to be professional footballers". Japan had four yellow cards, Senegal had six.

From a deep position, Rafal Kurzawa curled a free kick towards the back post and Bednarek was waiting to volley the ball inside the near post from six yards out for his first worldwide goal. In 2002 and 2006, the team had also spurned their chances of qualification for the knockout rounds after two matches, but in both cases managed to win their final group-stage game.

His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a right hand at full stretch.

Japan will go on to face the victor of the Belgium v England match in the Round of 16.

Their main man, striker Robert Lewandowski, powered in 16 goals during the qualifiers - but failed to score a single one in Russian Federation, ending his miserable tournament with another spurned chance against Japan. Yep, Senegal have been eliminated because they picked up more yellow cards that the Japanese.

In their only previous meeting with an Asian team in the World Cup, Poland lost 2-0 against South Korea in 2002.

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