Relentless Japan hold Senegal; England into last 16 after Panama demolition

YEKATERINBURG Japan’s Keisuke Honda heads the ball during a training session at the Yekaterinburg Arena on Saturday.—AP

YEKATERINBURG Japan’s Keisuke Honda heads the ball during a training session at the Yekaterinburg Arena on Saturday.—AP

Southampton defender Maya Yoshida has hailed the fearlessness of Japan boss Akira Nishino as the Samurai Blue eye a place in the round of 16 at the World Cup in Russian Federation.

The players showed fiery dance, like some kind of ritual and accompanied it with singing.

England's biggest-ever World Cup win, featuring two penalties by Kane then a fortuitous deflection off his heel, also guaranteed Belgium's berth in the next round.

"He can do better, but today he was better than against Poland and he needs to do better against Colombia".

Japan failed to deal with a right-wing cross with Genki Haraguchi nodding the ball straight to Senegal defender Youssouf Sabaly in the box.

Japan has been impressive in Russian Federation, particularly during its 2-1 victory over Colombia when admittedly it was playing against 10 men for most of the match.

"Honda was moved wide from the centre and he was very versatile in adapting to that position", explained Nishino.

"In the second half we wanted to win and after twice equalising I put on Usami".

Senegal has never lost to Japan in three encounters and this historical state coincided with their confident performance in Russian Federation to make Japan a bit of the underdog in this Group H encounter.

"We are not fearful of Senegal at all", he said.

Domestic Japanese teams do have so-called "ultras" and there are overtly right-wing football supporters, but Aoyanagi bristled at the notion of a Japanese hooligan. "Frankly, we were not very good.' Senegal reaches quarter-final in their only appearance in FIFA World Cup in 2002 and we the hope surpassing the same feat".

But Japan were successful in keeping the 26-year-old more or less quiet after that and Cisse admitted that the Asian side deserved to win, even if they were twice behind. "We have built confidence from the last two games, motivation is high and players who haven't featured in the last two games are determined to get some action", said Yoshida.

Senegal and Japan are now joint leaders of Group H with four points apiece having beaten Poland and Colombia respectively in the opening games.

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