Jittery Japan reach Round of 16 despite Poland defeat

1:22                                            Get the latest news from day 14 of the World Cup in Russia including an update on the health of Diego Maradona

Japan took the back door into the World Cup round of 16 on Thursday, losing 1-0 to Poland but progressing due to a Colombia win over Senegal and the Federation Internationale de Football Association fair play points system favoring the Samurai Blue.

A draw against Poland will guarantee the Samurai Blue qualification from the group stage, while depending on other results, even defeat at the Volgograd Arena could grant the Japanese a spot in the Round of 16.

Speaking before the final Group G games later on Thursday, Nishino said, "They (England and Belgium) are both world-class teams so it is a great challenge for us to face them, and we have to do good analysis and prepare our team and our strategies".

Japan's Gotoku Sakai in action with Poland's Artur Jedrzejczyk and Jan Bednarek.

Neither team showed any enterprise in the second half.

Yerry Mina scored on a header in the 74th minute and Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 Thursday to advance to the World Cup knockout stage.

'I suppose it was a little bit regrettable but this is the World Cup and sometimes this happens, ' added Nishino. 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.

Nishino then introduced Inui, but Japan barely fought back and were only reprieved after Colombia scored in Samara.

Japan and Senegal were tied on all tiebreakers except "fair play points", based on yellow and red cards.

After learning that Colombia were leading Senegal, Japan knew they were level with the Africans on goal difference but had received fewer yellow cards and so would progress if the scores remained unchanged. The coach Akira Nishino will probably start the same line-up as in the previous two matches.

Poland responded by creating their only significant chance of the first half with Kamil Grosicki seeing an excellent header clawed away from the bottom corner by Eiji Kawashima. I forced my players to do what I said.

Intrigued by a commercial promotion for the game that was clearly influenced by "Monday Night Football", the family attends the match. Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.

Poland, for the third straight World Cup that it has competed in, lost its first two group matches and then won its third.

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