World Cup progress Nishino's 'only consolation' for defensive Japan

Akira Nishino was not happy about telling his Japan players to try and keep the score at 1-0 to Poland, but admitted the strategy worked.

Japan coach Akira Nishino confirmed he instructed his side to play for a 1-0 loss against Poland in Volgograd and hope for a positive result in the game between Colombia and Senegal on Thursday.

The Samurai Blue advanced to the World Cup's round of 16 as Group H runners-up thanks to their superior disciplinary record over Senegal, who lost 1-0 to Colombia in Samara.

Speaking after the match, Nishino acknowledged the course of action he adopted after falling behind was far from ideal, but the circumstances forced his hand.

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"I wanted to make sure 'what if' was not going to take place on our pitch. So I decided I was going to rely on the other match's result. We were not happy about the situation, it was not intentional to stay trailing in the match and we were relying on the other match's result, however, it was a very tough situation," he said.

"To break out of the group stage, it was the ultimate decision for me to make. We did not go for victory but we just relied on the other match. I feel it was slightly regrettable but I suppose at that point I didn't have any other plans. And the players did respond to my messages. Today's match I think it…had to be that way…although I usually go for offence and attack."

"I'm really not happy about how we played. But because of the stage and we wanted to go through to the round of 16 and we have, I'm really happy about his. It's the only consolation we have."

Nishino was also adamant his players will be ready to face its round-of-16 opponents, regardless of whether it is Belgium or England.

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"We will overcome them mentally," he said.

"We'd like the team to have a different mentality. We might have done our best to come through the group stage. We'd haven't spent everything. We don't have much room left but we would like to play even better. We'd like the players to be confident. 

"Even against the likes of Belgium or England. I think within the next three days, we'd like them to feel confident because we could not be very attacking or offensive, we'd like them to feel more free and more offensive and attacking in the next match."

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