Japan, Senegal battle for Group H leadership

Japan and Senegal, both at the helm of Group H with three points each, will meet on Sunday to try to improve standing to boost chances of advancing to round of 16.

Japan beat Colombia 2-1 in their opener while Senegal overcame Poland 2-1.

This will be the fourth meeting between Japan and Senegal, and the African side unbeaten in previous three matches.

Japan coach Akira Nishino said Senegal were “a strong team, not only physically but also they are a well-organized team.” Japanese players “might be weaker individually compared to Senegal players, but our strength is unit-play. I want to show and prove that to the world in the next match,” he said.

Mbaye Niang, who scored a goal in Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland, said the Japanese have a style of game based on liveliness, therefore “it is up to us to vigilant.” Poland and Colombia will also have a crucial match in the same group, which would be the first competitive meeting between the two.

Jose Pekerman, Colombia coach, said his team immediately began preparing for Poland game even following their defeat by Japan. “There is no break in the World Cup,” he added.

“We are in a balanced group and we all knew the games were going to be very tough for all four teams in the group. That is what we are seeing now. It wasn’t a good start but we have to turn the page because we are just hours away from the next match.” Radamel Falcao, Colombia forward, said the clash against Poland would be like a final for his team.

“Each team will battle hard to keep the ball, and will close down the space for their opponents to operate in. Perhaps we won’t make as many mistakes as we did before, because we all know this is a match that will determine who will continue in the World Cup,” he said in press remarks on eve of match.

Poland assistant coach Hubert Malowiejski said Colombia was very difficult beat. “They have played with more or less the same squad for many years.” Colombia have won only two of their nine previous World Cup games against European opponents.

Source: Kuwait News Agency