Japan, of course, will be toasting the system, and they were more than happy to exploit it on field after learning of Yerry Mina's second-half victor for Colombia in the Senegal match, which set up the "fair play" tiebreaker. And it was they who fashioned the first real opening in the 12th minute of a game played at sedate pace in 36 Celsius temperatures.
"There was a 'what if?' on our pitch, and a 'what if?' on the other pitch".
"I decided that I was going to rely on the other match's result".
"The players listened to me and were loyal and determined to keep the status quo". It was tough, as my style is attack minded.
"It was an ultimate decision for me to make".
The fans at the Volgograd Arena showed their displeasure by booing and whistling loudly over the final minutes.
Japan and Senegal ended up tied for second in points, goal differential, goals for and goals against.
"They were also vulnerable to the counterattack after conceding the goal, and there are lots of things to work on before the next game". 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.
Colombia will face the runner-up of Group G, which will be either England or Belgium.
With Japan finishing with the exact same tally as Senegal on all counts, it was ultimately their fair play record that earned them a spot in the Round of 16. The first decent chance of the half came from an unlikely source, as Japanese centre-back Tomoaki Makino attempted a spectacular bicycle kick which flew just wide. Scampering across his goal before diving, Kawashima clawed the ball to safety just before it had crossed the line.
It's the first time since 1982 that no African team has advanced from the first round at the World Cup.
Inui picked up a yellow card in Japan's last match against Senegal. "You have to be in contact with other players when you play football".
Sure to have won no fans after this latest display, starting the tournament in a positive light, Japan will now enter the last-16 short of friends.
Poland have been one of the biggest disappointments of this World Cup, two years after reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 where they went out on penalties to eventual champions Portugal and after finishing top of their qualifying group for the World Cup in Russian Federation.