World Cup: Senegal coach Aliou Cisse points finger at defence after 2-2 draw with Japan

"Of course there are regrets but we must say we didn't see a great Senegal team tonight compared to the previous match against Poland," said coach Aliou Cisse.
"Of course there are regrets but we must say we didn't see a great Senegal team tonight compared to the previous match against Poland," said coach Aliou Cisse. PHOTO: AFP

EKATERINBURG (REUTERS) - Senegal coach Aliou Cisse criticised his team for letting Japan equalise twice in their World Cup Group H game on Sunday (June 24) and said he expected more from central defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Salif Sane.

In an exciting but error-strewn 2-2 draw, the Africans went ahead through Sadio Mane and dominated for much of the first half until Takashi Inui replied with a curling shot for Japan. After the break, though, Japan did most of the attacking.

"Of course there are regrets but we must say we didn't see a great Senegal team tonight compared to the previous match against Poland," said Cisse.

"Despite the fact we were leading twice, what is annoying for me is the two goals we conceded," he added, accusing his players of lacking rigour and concentration.

"All I know is at this level of competition with the players we have today, who are world-class, these were avoidable goals. That is crystal clear."

Though he did not elaborate on the lapses, the comment was particularly true of the Keisuke Honda tap-in that made it 2-2, after full-back Moussa Wague had put Senegal ahead for the second time.

Honda, who became the first Japanese player to score at three separate World Cups, now plies his trade in the Mexican top flight, but he proved his worth once again to his country and was praised by coach Akira Nishino for his adaptability.

 
 

"Honda was moved wide from the centre and he was very versatile in adapting to that position," explained Nishino. "I really wanted to win. We wanted to get the lead even though there was only a short period of time left."

The draw leaves Japan level on points with Senegal at the top of Group H. A win could have secured qualification for the last 16.

Now Japan turn their attention to Poland in Volgograd on Thursday.

"I evaluate it as a good point," concluded Nishino. "Senegal is a very tough team and this result, I hope, will lead to success in the next match."