MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
Japan lost their final Group H game 1-0 to Poland
in Volgograd on Thursday but qualified for the last 16 of the
World Cup on fair play rules due to Senegal’s 1-0 defeat to
It is ironic that
Japan should qualify on fair play, because fair play is the last
thing the side which have won hearts here in Russia showed in a
final 10 minutes when both sides accepted the result and
renounced all attempts to attack their rivals, with Poland happy
to see their first win in the final phase and Japan trusting
Colombia would hold on for a win which puts them into the
knockout phase for the second time in eight years.
importance of the game Japan coach Akira Nishino made six
changes to his starting 11 after repeating the same team for the
first two matches, while Lukasz Fabianski and Kamil Grosicki
were in the Polish side.
almost created a chance for Robert Lewandowski in the 5th
minute, but the striker’s touch let him down in the Japan
Japan took time to
get into the game, but Shinji Okazaki headed wide in the 12th
minute, Yoshinori Muto produced a smart save from Fabianski a
minute later and Maya Yoshida also worked the keeper from the
edge of the area.
Japan were leaving
spaces in midfield and were almost punished in the 32nd
minute when Grosicki’s header drew a good save from Eiji
Kawashima in the Japan goal, although Japan responded quickly as
Takashi Usami drew another stop from Fabianski.
There was a setback
for the Japanese at the start of the second half when Okazaki
had to be replaced by Yuya Osako after less than two minutes
with what looked like a muscle problem, but Japan retained their
attacking 4-4-2 formation with both wide midfielders pushing
forward, almost allowing Grosicki and Lewandowski to combine in
the 54th minute.
The game again
settled into a pattern with Japan looking to attack, but never
quite in control and were punished just before the hour when Jan
Bednarek side-footed home a free kick from close range, getting
the better of his Southampton teammate Yoshida in the process.
With Japan now
needing a goal to qualify for the next round Takashi Inui
replaced Usami, but they should have fallen 2 behind when
Lewandowski fired another Grosicki ball over in the 74th
minute and the Hull City winger almost forced Tomashi Makino to
concede an own goal with another dangerous cross.
News of Colombia’s
goal against Senegal clearly filtered through and with the
result in the other Group H game meaning Japan would qualify
through having fewer yellow cards than their rivals both sides
appeared to draw a footballing truce for what was frankly an
embarrassing last 10 minutes in which neither tried to score.
Japan through on
Fair Play but fair play clearly missing in Volgograd
MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) --
Poland beat Japan by 1-0 in their World Cup Group
H game in the Volgograd Arena on Thursday afternoon thanks to a
59th minute goal from defender Jan Bednarek, although
the result means Japan qualify for the last 16 of the
competition ahead of Senegal on fair play.
Bednarek scored from
close range following a free kick in what had been an even game
with both sides looking to attack, but Japan leaving Poland too
many spaces in midfield and down the wings.
In the closing
minutes of the match, news of Colombia’s goal against Senegal
meant the result satisfied both sides and the last 10 minutes
saw both sides pass the ball between themselves to the evident
frustration of the fans in the ground. It may have been
pragmatic, but it was panful to watch and to say they qualified
because of ‘fair play’ is exactly the opposite of what happened.
Japan coach defends ‘football
truce’ as his side qualify for last 16 in Russia
VOLGOGRAD Russia (Xinhua) --
Japan coach Akira Nishino admitted he had
instructed his players to accept a 1-0 defeat to Poland in the
closing minutes of their final Group H match in Volgograd on
Although Japan lost
to a 59th minute goal scored by Jan Bednarek and were
‘out’ of the tournament for around 16 minutes, news of Yerry
Mina’s 74th minute goal for Colombia against Senegal
which saw Japan into the last 16 on fair play rules clearly
filtered through and the closing minutes saw both sides happy to
pass the ball among themselves with no real efforts to win
possession or to launch any attacks.
“It was a tough
decision to make as there was always a chance that Senegal would
score, but I chose for us to stay put and to keep the status quo
and make sure nothing happened on our pitch. I decided I’d rely
on the result of the other game,” said Nishino in his post-game
“I’m not too happy
about this, but I told my players to do what I said,” explained
Nishino, adding that “these things happen in a World Cup. This
kind of football does exist and it’s the first time I have felt
this way. It was a massive decision to make to get us out of the
group stage,” he continued.
The Japanese coach
said it had been a “very tough situation” but with qualification
in the balance, he asked “what would have happened if we had
conceded another goal?”
“My message on the
pitch was to ‘stay put’ and the players listened to me, they
were going to keep things as they were.
“It was slightly
regrettable, but at that points I didn’t have any other plans,”
he admitted, before insisting Japan had “earned” the place in
the next round.