Japan seems to stop to play the game on the additional time on a World Cup match vs Poland, for about 2 minutes.

But the score was 0-1 and Japan was going to be defeat if they cannot score before the game ends.

So why did they seem to stop the game, by lazily sending pass to each other?

3 Answers 3


I didn't watch the game, but from what I've heard, the result of the Colombia-Senegal game meant that Japan were still set to qualify from the group even though they were losing 1-0. However, as they were tied with Senegal on points and goal difference, conceding another goal would knock Japan out and send Senegal through instead.

If Japan pushed forward in search of an equaliser, they risked being caught out by a counter-attack and conceding a second goal that would have eliminated them. All they needed to do for those final two minutes in order to qualify, was keep Poland from getting hold of the ball. And that's exactly what they did. A disappointing end to the game, perhaps, but they were thinking in the long-term.

  • Thanks and that is reasonable. But then I have two wonders - (1) Is it OK to keep the ball that way? In game 1 vs Columbia the Japanese goal keeper got a yellow card as he kept the ball for a while (if I understand it correctly) so why is it OK to keep the ball that way? Is it because they are losing or other reasons? (2) In soccer is it OK to bring an electronic device or otherwise how can they know the result of other games?
    – Blaszard
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 16:38
  • 2
    1) I believe time-wasting only applies to dead-ball situations (goal kicks, free kicks etc). There are no rules against just passing the ball around while it's in open play. 2) I don't know about the players on the pitch, but it's certainly okay for the coaches to bring their phones and keep an eye on what's happening in the other matches.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 16:44

The Japan vs Poland game was happening at the same time as the Senegal vs Colombia game. At the end of the games Poland and Colombia were winning their games by one goal. Given the standings Colombia would go through as first seed with 6 points, while Japan and Senegal were tied with 4 points.

Japan and Senegal had the same number of points, goals, goal differential. But Japan held the tie breaker by having 2 less yellow cards than Senegal.

So instead of attacking in the stoppage time and push for a goal Japan took the safer way by keeping the ball. Had they pushed for a goal they would've been vulnerable to counter attacks, which could lead into goals for Poland or more yellow cards for Japan which would've reduce from their tie breaker over Senegal. Also Poland was already eliminated and were winning the game so they didn't need to push Japan to get the ball back. So Japan made sure to keep control of the ball without trying to score and hoped that on the other game Senegal wouldn't score a goal.

At the end the score of both games remained at 1-0. Japan made it to the round of 16 for having 2 less yellow cards based on fair play performance.


Poland was eliminated regardless, they wanted to go out with a win. The match between Senegal vs Colombia was happening at the same time with Senegal losing 0-1 as well and if result had stayed (0-1 in both match; Sengal vs Colombia and Poland vs Japan) Japan & Colombia would win the tie breakers and advance to the next stage.

If Senegal had scored a goal, Japan would've been eliminated. So it'd be better for Japan to at least draw with Poland as well in case Senegal also draw with Colombia in the other match but Japan didn't want to risk losing more and gambled that Colombia could hold the result.

In short, Japan gambled on the other match, not their own.

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