Maya Yoshida and Jan Bednarek return to World Cup action in Russia today with their respective qualification hopes hanging in the balance.
Of the pair, Yoshida’s Japan currently occupy the driving seat to reach the last 16 after the Samurai Blue’s battling 2-1 win over Colombia put them top of Group H alongside Senegal who surprised Bednarek’s Poland by the same score-line.
Those two results have set up an intriguing and potentially decisive encounter at the at 4pm this afternoon as the two group leaders face off at the Ekaterinburg Arena.
Yoshida was instrumental in helping his team over the line in Saransk five days ago and a repeat performance could put Maya’s side to within touching distance of the knockout stages for just the third time in their history.
Attentions will then turn to Kazan at 7pm where the loser between Poland and Colombia faces a premature exit from the finals.
Saints’ Bednarek was a second-half substitute as part of a switch to a three-man defence last time out and will be hopeful of retaining his place in the Polish line-up.