Japan coach Akira Nishino hopes his gamble of resting players in their previous game against Poland will bear fruit on Monday against Belgium when his side will be bidding to make it third time lucky and reach the quarter-finals.
'We have been here twice in the past in round of 16 but this is different, we haven't exhausted ourselves yet so we can create a new opportunity,' Nishino told a news conference on Sunday.
'The players and coaching staff would like to create something big tomorrow.'
Japan boss Akira Nishino hopes his side's fresher legs will give them the edge against Belgium
The Japan squad trained in Rostov on Sunday ahead of their round of 16 tie against Belgium
Nishino risked his side exiting the competition by making a remarkable six changes from his line-up from the 2-2 draw with Senegal for their final Group H match against Poland which they lost 1-0, sneaking through due only to their superior disciplinary record over Senegal.
Nishino also attracted criticism back in Japan for his negative tactics during the defeat to Poland, when he was seen ordering his players to pass the ball around in their own half in the final minutes even though they were losing.
But he stressed the importance of having fresher legs when they come up against the highly fancied Belgians,