Japan out to top Group H

Japan out to top Group H
Makoto Hasebe (C) of Japan celebrates winning the FIFA World Cup 2018 group H

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 27, 2018. 09:30

Japan will aim to top Group H at the 2018 World Cup when they play Poland at the Volgograd Arena on Thursday, June 28, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Japan come into the game sitting at the top of the pool with four points, though they are ranked ahead of Senegal on on fair play, with the teams having identical records thus far.

The ‘Samurai Blue’ have put in two strong showings at Russia 2018, first defeating Colombia 2-1 (which saw them become the first Asian team to beat a South American team at the World Cup) before twice fighting back from a goal down to secure a 2-2 draw with Senegal.

This means that Akiro Nishina’s team need only a draw to secure advancement into the last 16, though claiming all three points and winning the group is their ultimate aim. Should Japan advance, it will be the third time they have qualified for the last 16, following the same achievement in 2002 and 2010.

As for Poland, Russia 2018 has been a tournament to forget. Their opening 2-1 defeat to Senegal was followed by a 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Colombia this past weekend and they cannot reach the next round regardless of their result in this clash.

The ‘White Eagles’ will at least look to restore some pride under coach Adam Nawalka, who could well shuffle his pack and field an experimental line-up in the hope that fresh legs and minds bring his side a better performance.

The other Group H match between Senegal and Colombia will be played simultaneously at the Cosmos Arena in Samara.

Japan and Poland have met in just two previous matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The first was a friendly in Hong Kong in February 1996 which the ‘Samurai Blue’ won 5-0, and the Asian side claimed a 2-0 victory when the teams last met in a friendly in Lodz in March 2002.

Japan v Poland – head-to-head

Matches played 2
Japan wins 2
Poland wins 0
Draws 0
Japan goals 7
Poland goals 0

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