Japan knew that a draw against Poland would guarantee their spot in the knockout phase at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
but events in Group H transpired in such a way that the Samurai Blue progressed on the back of a defeat. It is the third time the East Asians have made it past the group stage at a World Cup finals, having achieved the feat in back in 2002 and 2010.
A draw was enough for Japan to qualify for the Russia 2018 knockout phase, but the changes to the starting XI and the new tactical approach did not help the team. The Japanese only advance to the Round of 16, thanks to Colombia’s win over Senegal and having picked up fewer yellow cards than the Africans. A win, a draw and a loss ultimately turned out to be sufficient for the Samurai Blue.