Senegal coach Aliou Cisse said he "accepted the rules of the game" as the west Africans were eliminated from the World Cup due to a worse disciplinary record than their direct rivals for a place in the last 16.
The Teranga Lions required only a draw with Colombia in their final Group F game in Samara, but could also have squeezed through to the last 16 in the event of defeat depending on the result of the other group game between Japan and Poland.
When already-eliminated Poland stunned Japan 1-0 in Volgogrard and Senegal suffered a 1-0 defeat, it left Japan and Senegal with the same points and the same goals difference.
The third criteria used to separate teams in this instance is their disciplinary record. With six yellow cards in three group games, Senegal were eliminated because Japan had only been issued four, leaving Africa without a representative in the last 16.
"It's the law of football," said Cisse. "We didn't qualify because we've earned more yellow cards, but I'm proud of my lads, they've worked hard for this tournament and I think we've showed we can have a bright future."
Former Senegal international Cisse refused to play the blame game. He said his players were aware of the rules but he had refused to tell them to adapt their game accordingly.
"It's the rules of the game, they've bneen established by FIFA and we have to respect it, even though we would have liked to have been eliminated another way," he said.
NISHINO TOLD TROOPS TO STAND DOWN
Japan coach Akira Nishino said he was "forced" to tell his players to down tools towards the end of their World Cup match against Poland to secure qualification.
With 10 minutes to go Japan were losing 1-0, but with Colombia leading Senegal by the same scoreline in the other simultaneous Group H tie it meant Japan would qualify on fair play with Colombia.
Despite boos ringing out, the Japanese and Polish players slowed to walking pace for the last 10 minutes.
"It was a very tough decision," he explained. "There was a 'what if?' on our pitch, and a 'what if?' on the other pitch. I chose to keep the status quo in our game, and rely instead on the other result.
“I'm not too happy about this but the World Cup is such that these things happen and we went through so it was perhaps the right decision."