But it was apparent within minutes that the rematch would not go so smoothly for Colombia, much to the chagrin of entire sections of the Mordovia Arena bathed in yellow.
"The current team has more experienced players than before", said goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, who played for Japan in South Africa in 2010 and in Brazil four years ago. Jacqui Hurley presents, with analysis from Eamon Dunphy, Richard Dunne and Michael O'Neill, and commentary by Adrian Eames and Jim Beglin.
The South Americans have their own injury concern in the form of James Rodriguez, with the Bayern midfielder nursing a calf strain.
"It was good we could deprive the front players of their stamina".
As far as team are concerned, David Ospina of Arsenal and Davinson Sanchez of Tottenham will be joining forces to guard the Colombia goal, while Chelsea's Radamel Falcao will lead the line.
"We can not fall in the trap of feeling overconfident in this match", Colombia midfielder Abel Aguilar said.More news: Nearly 2000 minors split from parents at border in 6 weeks
Pekerman also expressed his esteem for his first Group H opponent, Japan, which failed to win a match in the round-robin in 2014.
"We think Japan will be a very tough team, we have completely forgotten what happened in the last World Cup", insisted Pekerman, who rarely speaks to the press.
Japan will need players such as Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda to be at their best if they're to get a result here or make it out of a tricky group.
Nevertheless, Colombia, who defeated Japan 4-1 in the group stage in 2014, are still favorites to capture three points in this one.
After Halilhodzic was sacked, the Japanese FA replaced him with former technical director Akira Nishino. Egypt will look to bounce back against the hosts after being defeated by Uruguay 1-0 with a last minute goal.
World Cup hosts Russian Federation face an Egypt side buoyed by the likely return of star man Mohamed Salah on Tuesday knowing a win will all but guarantee a place in the last-16. "They feel protected in certain situations, so our work in the middle is vital to provide balance to the team".