Japan coach defends ‘football truce’ as his side qualify for last 16

Volgograd, June 29 : Japan chief coach Akira Nishino admitted he had instructed his footballers to accept a 0-1 defeat to Poland in the closing minutes of their final Group H match of the FIFA World Cup here on Thursday.

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, reports Xinhua news agency.

“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 press conference.

“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. IANS