The high-risk strategy could easily have gone wrong for Japan had Senegal equalised against Colombia in Samara. With the game played at a walking pace, their opponents let them pass the back at the back under no pressure to see the game out.
"I'm not too happy about this but..." The message I sent out to the pitch was to stay put and the players listened to me'. "I would like to play both of them because they will pose a fantastic challenge for us".
"It was an ultimate decision for me to make".
"I decided that I was going to rely on the other match's result".
Japan and Senegal share the group lead with four points and the same number of goals scored and conceded. Starting at this year's tournament, disciplinary records _ known as fair play _ were added by Federation Internationale de Football Association as a tiebreaker.
Senegal's six yellow cards to Japan's four ultimately cost the African side, which exits Russian Federation in disappointing circumstances.
Kawashima made an error earlier in the tournament against Senegal that allowed Sadio Mane to score, and the goalkeeper is determined to make amends in the Group H match Thursday in Volgograd. Senegal committed 44 fouls.
They were outclassed by Colombia in their last game, though Japan perhaps only secured three points against Los Cafeteros because they had a one-man advantage for virtually the entire match following Carlos Sanchez's red card in the third minute.
Bednarek's goal gave his side a deserved win and it could have been two - which would have eliminated Japan - if star striker Robert Lewandowski had not missed a glorious second-half chance.
Goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima keeps his place despite a howler for Senegal's first goal in the 2-2 draw and will captain the side.
Japan created most of the chances during the half with Yoshinori Muto central to most of his team's attacking forays. His cleverly directed header looked destined for the bottom corner until Kawashima made up huge amounts of ground to claw it to safety with a right hand at full stretch.
Japan, who had only needed to draw against Poland to guarantee qualification, will next face a daunting task against the winners of Thursday's Group G decider between England and Belgium.
Japan will go on to face the victor of the Belgium v England match in the Round of 16.
The result means Japan reach the knockout phase for the third time in their six World Cups and with Nishino undoubtedly about to face some hard questions about his decisions for the match at a sweltering Volgograd Arena. This is how you play football.
Sure to have won no fans after this latest display, starting the tournament in a positive light, Japan will now enter the last-16 short of friends.
NBCSN, the exclusive US cable TV home of the Premier League, will simulcast in Spanish the FIFA World Cup match between England and Belgium this Thursday, June 28, with live coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET from Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad.