Japan coach 'forced' to tell team to back off

Japan coach 'forced' to tell team to back off”

- Japan have qualified out of the World Cup group stage for the third time in their history, also doing so in 2002 and 2010. The Japanese players slowed play down to nearly nothing, softly passing the ball back and forth in little triangles in their own end to waste time.

"However, it was a very tough and risky situation".

"So I'm embarrassed by the way they were happy to just accept the loss".

"I was surprised how humid it was", he said, adding that his players need to be clever in possession and conserve their energy in the sapping conditions.

Poland were relieved to have restored some pride by eking out a win but they finished at the bottom of the group as one of the tournament's biggest disappointments.

With Senegal and Japan tied behind Colombia in the standings - level on points, goal difference and goals scored - the four-time Asian champions' smaller number of yellow cards would be the decisive tie-breaker.

Denmark and France played out a turgid goalless draw in the knowledge that they would both qualify.

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But after going behind they had to hope the result of the game in Samara went their way - while avoiding yellow cards to stay ahead of Senegal.

Overall, Japan committed only 28 fouls in three group matches, among the fewest in the tournament.

Cisse said it was "sad" and a "shame" for Senegal to go out in such a way, and conceded that maybe his players had been too committed in their tackling.

A long Rafal Kurzawa free-kick was met on the volley crisply from close range by Bednarek as Poland recorded their only win of a sorry Russian campaign, despite arriving ranked eighth in the world.

The goal left Japan suddenly facing the prospect of elimination from the tournament depending on results elsewhere. However, Colombia's goal in the 74th minute of the other group match meant Japan was in second place and would advance.

As the game continued, it barely got above walking pace. "We went through. Therefore perhaps it was the right decision".

Akira Nishino sprung a surprise by making six changes to his starting XI despite the fact Japan still needed a point to guarantee qualification for the knockout stage. The Japanese keeper did well to get across his line and claw the ball away. Of course, we did not want to allow Poland to keep the winning score, we tried to attack.

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"We are where we are and we know that we have failed the Polish football fans and ourselves", coach Adam Nawalka said.

Panama is still looking for a maiden World Cup victory - or draw, for that matter. Belgium appeared to be a reluctant victor.

"As a group we have to defend well to counter the threat he poses".

HALF-TIME - Tunisia 0 Panama 1.

Their opponents will be decided later in the day in the Group G match between England and Belgium.

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"I don't think you can plan the ideal scenario", Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said.

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