Japanese national team coach Akira Nishino claimed that he made a couple of mistakes – especially with regards to tactics – in the recent loss against Poland. Japan were expected to be a strong contender to reach the last 16 of the World Cup 2018, as the team were placed in a relatively comfortable group that included the likes of Poland and Senegal. However, a tough set of matches to start the competition led to Japan coming into the game against Poland in a difficult circumstance. Rather than try and go out for a victory, Japan were surprisingly defensive in the 1-0 loss against Poland.
After the game,Nishino admitted that he was playing on Colombia to beat Senegal rather than go for a victory against Poland and suffer more disadvantage in terms of goal difference. Incredibly, this controversial approach surprisingly worked out well for Japan, who were able to end up level with Senegal on a number of parameters. However, Japan were able to progress into the last 16 as a result of picking up two fewer cards. It remains to be seen ifNishino’s open admission will be at a disadvantage to the team when they take on Belgium, who are clear favourites for the World Cup title, in the round of last 16.
Japan’s new head coach Akira Nishino is optimistic of the nation reaching the knock stage of this summer’s World Cup. Following disappointing friendly results against Mali and Ukraine in March, the JFA made the surprise decision to sack Vahid Halilhodzic, despite there being just over two months before the World Cup starts in Russia.
Speaking on FIFA.com, Nishino is hoping to put the best team together for the global tournament, and he has set the aim of progressing beyond the group stage, he said: “I will give my all to put together a team for Russia. I feel a strong responsibility. I have been away from the dugout for two years, and now I have to get my mind and body together as a manager. I don’t think we have fallen apart as a team at all. I don’t think we’ve been getting the results we should have and we haven’t reached our full potential yet. I want to get results. It’s the World Cup, so I want us to show that we are good enough to get to the knockout phase.”