Halilhodzic: Japan not ready for Senegal

Japan head coach Vahid Halilhodzic admitted that his side is not yet prepared for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup following their 1-1 draw against Mali on Friday afternoon.

The friendly in Liege, Belgium seemed destined to end in a victory for the African side after the Samurai Blue could muster no response to Abdoulay Diaby’s 43rd-minute penalty kick.

But a late Shoya Nakajima goal salvaged a result, if not the confidence of the tactician who took Algeria to the Round of 16 four years ago in Brazil.

“It was a difficult result,” Halilhodzic told TV Asahi after the match. “We learned a lot, but not all of it was positive. We still have a lot of training to do.”

Japan’s lack of finishing against the FIFA 67th-ranked side hinted at a difficult encounter against Senegal on June 24 in Yekaterinburg.

“We’re not yet prepared to face Senegal,” Halilhodzic admitted before departing for the locker room.