Thursday 19 July 2018

Japan hoping to clean up on the field

Nishino: Heat is on. Photo: Reuters
Nishino: Heat is on. Photo: Reuters

James Ducker

Akira Nishino, the Japan coach, is hoping the oppressive conditions in Volgograd do not conspire against his team in the frantic battle for qualification in Group H.

The temperature is expected to exceed 40C at pitch-side this afternoon when Japan take on Poland and the players will also have to contend with stifling humidity.

Japan need a point to guarantee a place in the last 16 - Poland cannot progress after losing their opening games to Senegal and Colombia - and Nishino admits the playing conditions are far from ideal.

"I have to establish the condition of every player," he said. "It's going to be hot and humid but we have to be effective. The ball doesn't get tired so we'd like to use it efficiently."

Colombia and Senegal meet in Samara knowing a victory would guarantee a place in the knockout stages. The winners and runners-up of Group H meet the runners-up and winners of England's group.

Eiji Kawashima, the Japan goalkeeper, meanwhile, has praised the travelling supporters who have again made the headlines for their behaviour at the World Cup.

Japan fans sparked a trend of supporters tidying up after themselves during the last World Cup in Brazil and Kawashima said he is pleased to see it has caught on among other countries in Russia.

"I think it's wonderful this is spreading," he said. "Japan has started this and it's becoming more popular. I feel it is great - and I hope it will get bigger and wider and people will recognise the importance of this deed."

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk

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