VOLGOGRAD, Russia (AFP) — Japan coach Akira Nishino made six changes for the final Group H match against Poland today as he targets the point that will guarantee his side a place in the World Cup knockout rounds.
But it was a surprise to see him leave out Takashi Inui, who has been outstanding, with three goals in his past four appearances for Japan, and midfield partner Shinji Kagawa for Hotaru Yamaguchi and Takashi Usami.
Also out are defenders Gen Shoji, midfielders Makoto Hasebe, Genki Haraguchi and forward Yuya Osako.
In come Leicester's Shinji Okazaki, who starts behind lone striker Yoshinori Muto. Also given a start are defenders Gotoku Sakai and Tomoaki Makino as they try to keep Poland's front line, led by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, at bay.
Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima keeps his place despite a howler for Senegal's first goal in the 2-2 draw and will captain the side.
The already eliminated Poles made five changes as they bid to end the tournament on a high after losing 2-1 to Senegal and 3-0 to Colombia.
In come goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, defenders Kamil Glik and Artur Jedrzejczyk, and midfielders Kamil Grosicki and Rafal Kurzawa.