MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Thursday at the World Cup (all times local):
Shinji Okazaki has been included among six changes to Japan’s starting lineup for its last World Cup group match against Poland.Coach Akira Nishino prefaced changes by speaking of the need to pick a team that can cope with the hot conditions in the Volgograd Arena. Japan needs to avoid defeat to make it to the round of 16.
Poland coach Adam Nawalka has made five changes as his team aims to end a losing streak. Poland is already eliminated after losing both its games in Group H. Goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski is included.
Japan: Eiji Kawashima, Yuto Nagatomo, Gaku Shibasaki, Shinji Okazaki, Takashi Usami, Yoshinori Muto, Hotaru Yamaguchi, Hiroki Sakai, Tomoaki Makino, Gotoku Sakai, Maya Yoshida.
Poland: Lukasz Fabianski, Artur Jedrzejczyk, Jan Bednarek, Jacek Goralski, Robert Lewandowski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Bartosz Bereszynski, Piotr Zielinski, Kamil Grosicki, Kamil Glik, Rafal Kurzawa.
Carlos Sanchez is back in the lineup for Colombia after sitting out a match for a red card he got three minutes into Colombia’s tournament-opening loss to Japan. Coach Jose Pekerman dedicated the team’s win in the second game to Sanchez, who reportedly had received death threats.
Senegal coach Aliou Cisse made three changes from the last match, adding midfielder Cheikhou, defender Lamine Gassama and forward Keita Balde for the group finale at Samara Stadium.
Colombia sits third in the group behind Japan and Senegal and needs at least a draw to advance. A draw would guarantee that Senegal goes through.
Colombia: David Ospina, Santiago Arias, Carlos Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado, Yerry Mina, Mateus Uribe, Johan Mojica, Juan Quintero, Davinson Sanchez.
Senegal: Khadim Ndiaye, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gane Gueye, Salif Sane, Sadio Mane, Youssouf Sabaly, Alfred Ndiaye, Ismaila Sarr, Mbaye Niang, Keitu Balde, Lamin Gasma, Cheikhou Kouyate.
Iran’s national team has been shaken after two top forwards declared they will retire from international duty after players were subjected to online insults.
The 23-year-old Sardar Azmoun was the target of numerous insults on social media after failing to score in any of Iran’s three group stage games at the World Cup.
Azmoun says his mother had been recovering from a serious illness but the insults caused it to flare up again. Between football and his mother, he writes on Instagram, “I chose my mother.”
The 30-year-old Reza Ghoochannejhad says he’s also leaving the national team. He was an unused substitute in all three games.
Ghoochannejhad says “my mind, my personality and my pride do not allow me” to wear the Iranian national team shirt again.
Brazil says Marcelo is recovering well from his back injury but it remains unclear if he will be available for the team’s round-of-16 match against Mexico on Monday.
The Brazilian federation says Marcelo is “undergoing treatment and showed good improvement,” but it did not give a timetable for his recovery.
Marcelo had to be replaced 10 minutes into Brazil’s 2-0 win against Serbia in Moscow. He limped off the field with what the federation said was a back spasm.
Former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus says “something has to change” about the team after its World Cup group-stage exit.
As Germany travels home following the 2-0 loss to South Korea that eliminated the defending champion, Matthaeus says “we missed the team spirit. Everything that was good four years ago in Brazil was going now bad in Russia, and I think for this the team is now in the plane on the way to Germany.”
Asked if coach Joachim Loew should quit, Matthaeus says “something has to change, there’s no question, because the German team’s performance here in Russia wasn’t worthy of a German team. Whether Loew made mistakes or which players made mistakes, I think everyone played a part in this.”
Matthaeus captained the then-West Germany to the World Cup title in 1990.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has been elusive for international media during the World Cup, but he made a brief exception Thursday.
Opening a soccer exhibition on Red Square with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Infantino stopped for just over a minute with reporters, saying that “the world is seeing what a fantastic party and celebration we are having here.”
Infantino last spoke with journalists at the FIFA congress before the tournament.
Infantino hails the tournament as “beautiful, unbelievable, great celebration, great matches, perfect organization, hospitable country,” and says it will raise interest in soccer in Russia.
Kevin De Bruyne jokingly says he has invited some Manchester City teammates to his birthday party.
De Bruyne turned 27 on Thursday, the day his Belgium team plays England at the World Cup in Kaliningrad.
In a tweet , De Bruyne says he invited some of his club teammates to his party. The tweet includes a picture of Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker, all fellow Manchester City players who are on England’s squad.
Whether they meet on the pitch remains to be seen.
Both teams already are qualified for the round of 16, and Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has said it would be “unprofessional” to use players who have yellow cards. De Bruyne is one of those players. A second yellow card would mean missing Belgium’s next match.
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