Japan coach Akira Nishino defended his attacking philosophy on Sunday after his team were forced to come from behind twice to grab a point in their thrilling Group H draw with Senegal.
Nishino promised an attacking philosophy when he took over the Samurai Blue in April, and he was true to his word in Ekaterinburg, with all three of his substitutions offensive players as he sought the win that would all but guarantee a last-16 spot.
One of the subs, Keisuke Honda, scored the equaliser to make it 2-2 with 12 minutes remaining, before Nishino introduced another forward, Takashi Usami, late on.
On the low-key, this Japan-Senegal game is seriously one of the most entertaining I’ve seen this tournament.
— Jonah Freedman (@jonahfreedman) June 24, 2018
Speaking about his tactics, Nishino defended his go-for-broke approach.
“Of course in the second half we wanted to win,” Nishino said. “After equalising twice I put in Usami – I could have put a defender in but I put in the attacker – and we earned one point.
“All the substitutes were attackers. I believe I used them well in terms of timing, and all three of them are attackers and are point-getters.”
Veteran Honda once again proved his worth, becoming the first Japanese player to score at three separate World Cups.
“Honda was moved wide from the centre and he was very versatile in adapting to that position,” said Nishino. “I really wanted to win. We wanted to get the lead even though there was only a short period of time left.”
— Nicholas Childress (@NChill17) June 24, 2018
The draw leaves Japan needing at least a point from their final game with Poland on Thursday to secure a place in the last 16.
“I see it as a good point,” added Nishino. “Senegal are a very tough team and this result, I hope, will lead to success in the next match.”