WHILE I have no affiliation with Senegal, and no beef with Japan for that matter, Thursday's World Cup Group H finale left a sour taste in the mouth.

The sight of Japan settling for a 1-0 defeat to the foursome's whipping boys Poland was perhaps the most depressing thing about the first stage of what has so far been a thoroughly entertaining spectacle.

Some would say the rules were in place long before the tournament kicked off, and Japan had earned the right to lose and go through on four points, by virtue of being booked two times fewer than the Africans.

But, while there had to be some way of deciding these matters without resorting to the toss of a coin, watching Japan reach the last 16 on the fair-play rule was somewhat ironic and, for what it's worth, lost the neutrals' vote.

That final 10 minutes in Volgograd was hugely unedifying and a direct contrast to the frantic efforts of Senegal to try to earn their place 'the right way'.

The touch map and Opta feed of Japan's game against Poland illustrate just how unambitious both teams were in that ending.

An 82nd-minute corner for Poland was the last post on the feed until the full-time whistle on 90+4 minutes, while Japan's touch map from the 76th minute, when they had clearly heard Columbia had taken the lead in Samara, shows the furthest forward they advanced was about half a yard beyond the centre circle.

You could argue Senegal had been content to play for the draw that would have sent them into the knockouts, which backfired when they conceded late in the day.

However, I thought they played well and showed a degree of attacking intent and to my mind they and their supporters will be a loss to the tournament.

Comparisons will inevitably be made with the 1982 competition and the Disgrace of Gijon, when West Germany and Austria seemingly willingly smoothed each other's passage out of the groups with a 1-0 win for the Germans. When commentators are refusing to commentate, or advise watchers to switch off their TVs you know something is amiss.

Algeria were the wronged team that day, and lodged a complaint with FIFA but it was nigh-on impossible to prove any rules had been broken or collusion had taken place.

The 'match' – which, after West Germany had taken the lead, was played out for 80 painful minutes in front of a baying crowd, including a German who burned his national flag in disgust – at least prompted a change in tournament rules.

From that day, final group matches were to be played at the same time. But information relating to other games is readily available these days and can be acted upon mid-match, as we saw from Japan.

Poland hardly covered themselves in glory either. They had pretty much stunk the place out in their first two games and were content with their 1-0 lead to at least save some face.

But I don't think anyone was the winner on the day.