Volgograd (Russia) (AFP) – Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima looks set to retain his place against Poland on Thursday despite his howler in the 2-2 draw with Senegal.
Kawashima was given a vote of confidence for the final Group H match as he appeared alongside coach Akira Nishino at a pre-match press conference at Volgograd Arena on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old stopper thanked his teammates for rallying round after he made a hash of a punched clearance and saw it ricochet back off Sadio Mane’s knee and into the net for Senegal’s opening goal in the 2-2 draw.
He vowed he would repay the faith the coach and squad have shown in him as Japan go for the point they need to guarantee a last-16 berth against already eliminated Poland.
“I am very grateful for my teammates who helped me in the last match, so this time I would like to help them.”
Reports in the Japanese media had suggested that Nishino was considering his goalkeeping options after the Senegal draw, which if Japan had won would have seen them through to the last 16 for only the third time in their history.
“Because I am representing Japan of course I am ready to be criticised,” added Kawashima. “But as a player I would like to improve on what I did in the last match.”