Japan make last 16 on disciplinary rule despite Poland loss

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"It was a very tough decision", he said. "I forced my players to do what I said, but the World Cup is such that these things happen.The decision was ultimately mine to make".

"But life goes on and the match tomorrow will be of great significance, particularly from a mental point of view because we need to demonstrate that we never give up as a team".

"I am really not happy about how we played, but we wanted to go through to the round of 16 and we have, and that is the only salvation that I get".

They will be favorites against Poland, who have lost their two matches and have no chance of reaching the last 16.

Senegal's six yellow cards to Japan's four ultimately cost the African side, who exit Russian Federation in disappointing circumstances.

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 nearly forced Tomashi Makino to concede an own goal with another unsafe cross. Japan vs Poland match of Group H will be telecast on Sony Ten 2/Sony Ten 2 HD (English), Sony Ten 3/Sony Ten 3 HD (Hindi) and Sony ESPN (Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu) TV channels.

Kawashima made an error earlier in the tournament against Senegal that allowed Sadio Mane to score, and the goalkeeper is determined to make amends in the Group H match Thursday in Volgograd.

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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.

The match was often lethargic anyway in the 36 deg C heat, but the stupor was broken in the 59th minute when Poland's Rafal Kurzawa floated a free-kick to the far post and an unmarked Jan Bednarek scored from close range.

When Bednarek scored, Japan was facing elimination.

For after Colombia scored against Senegal in the 74th minute, putting qualification in Japan's hands, coach Akira Nishino ordered his players to take no risks, an approach that slowed the game and earned resounding boos from the crowd.

As the game continued, it barely got above walking pace.

Which basically meant - keep the ball, pass it around at the back and kill time, even if it means Japan losing the game 1-0. He has six goals and four assists in eight World Cup appearances. All four of Japan's scorers in the previous two games were left on the bench, but the Japanese still had more of the chances in the first half.

Bartosz Bereszynski whipped a lovely cross into the area, which met the head of Kamil Grosicki, but his effort was brilliantly saved down low by the fingertips of Eiji Kawashima. Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.

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