Senegal coach Aliou Cisse admits he was left with regrets as Japan twice came from behind to earn a draw and forestall his side from securing their place in the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Having both won their respective opening games in Group H, this was a chance for either nation to qualify for the round of 16 but the 2-2 draw in Ekaterinburg means both still have work to do.
Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague had twice put Senegal ahead, only for Japan to respond on both occasions as Takashi Inui and substitute Keisuke Honda equalised.
Cisse – who saw his side beat Poland in their first game – felt his players did not reach the same level as they allowed Japan back into this contest.
“Of course we have regrets,” he said at his post-match press conference.
“We must acknowledge that we didn’t see a great Senegalese performance tonight in comparison to the match against Poland.
“We were not very good frankly, and Japan were the better team, I have to admit that. But despite that fact, we led twice and what’s annoying for me is the two goals we conceded.
“Japan played as expected; they are a very technical team with such good quality in that respect.
“We pressured them well at the start and they made some errors, which we exploited. But as soon as gave them some space, it became difficult for us.
“Now we have to hope for the best when we face Colombia.”
Japan also went into the game after winning their opener having seen off 10-man Colombia.
While Cisse was critical of his players, Japan coach Akira Nishino wants his squad to take a confidence boost from the way they responded to twice falling behind.
“It was a tough match, and we always knew it was going to be tough,” he said.
“We knew Senegal were not a team we could win easily against. But the team were calm after conceding goals and it was positive that we were able to equalise twice.
“We constructed attacks well and played in our own rhythm. The substitutions also worked well and I think I did very well with the timing of those.
“The players were very confident and positive, and I myself thought we could have gone for the victory. And we really wanted to win this match.
“But Senegal are a very strong team and I hope that this result will lead to more success in our next match.”