Who? Japan - Senegal
Where? Yekaterinburg Arena, Yekaterinburg
When? June 24, 17:00 (CET local time)
Japan (Yossi Medina)
Japan made one of the biggest surprises of the first matchday. No one could imagine that they will defeat Colombia in such an impressive play. Some will say that the early red card for Carlos Sánchez changed the game, but many times we saw that playing against 10 players could be more difficult.
After the game, one name has been repeated several times – the winning goal scorer, Yuya Osako. Japan has many representatives in the Bundesliga and Osako is one of them, while he played in the last season for FC Köln. After the relegation of his club at the end of the season, Osako signed for Weder Bremen and will start his fifth season in the German top flight.
Defeating Senegal will improve their chances to qualify for the next stage. Japan has some good memories of playing against African teams, like their win against Cameroon in the 2010 World Cup. That campaign was the last that they managed to qualify for the knockout stage.
The Blue Samurais are ready to have some good time in their next match. Unlike the expectation, Japan can find their way to a glorious World Cup appearance. All they need to do now it to give another great performance.
Senegal (Omri Tancman)
Before the tournament started, not many expected the game between Senegal and Japan to be considered as a clash over the leadership of group H. After the surprising victory of Japan and the very impressive performance of Senegal against Poland, the upcoming match can be decisive for both teams and probably send one of them to the next stage.
The impressive performance of Aliou Cisse’s players might have been seen as a surprise but Senegal’s dominance and bursts of attacks reminded to many pundits the team of 2002. It seems that the team of 2002 and its spirit overshadow this team. For example, the first match was dedicated to Bruno Metsu, Senegal’s coach in 2002. Moreover, in 2002 Senegal’s second match was against Denmark that has beaten Uruguay 2-1, a result which surprisingly made both teams leaders in their group. This scenario seems to be repeated up until now. Both Senegal and Japan managed to secure important and somewhat surprising wins against Poland and Colombia. According to this scenario, Senegal should end its match against Japan in a draw.
But the spirit of 2002 doesn’t overshadow the current squad only in possible similar scenarios. It lies with the guidance of players from that generation, such as Khalilou Fadiga, who praised the performance of Youssouf Sabaly and Mbaye Niang during the game against Poland. Furthermore, the spirit of 2002 lies in the need of players to be remembered as a generation of their own. As Kalidou Koulibaly, Senegal’s Central Defender stated after the match against Poland “we think a lot about the generation of 2002. Now there is a 2018 generation. We have shown it.” A win against Japan can be a first step to prove that Koulibaly is right.