AFC President hails Japan for clinching AFC U-16 Championship
Kuala Lumpur: AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has hailed Japan for capturing a record third AFC U-16 Championship title after the East Asians secured a narrow 1-0 victory over Tajikistan at the National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Both countries, along with the tournament’s semi-finalists – Australia and Korea Republic – will represent Asia at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru in October 2019.
AFC President Shaikh Salman said: “I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Japan for displaying great determination to be crowned champions of Asia. Both Japan and Tajikistan battled bravely in a close encounter that showcased the undeniable talent and promise that exists in Asia.
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“Japan’s victory is a testament to the coaches, and the incredible youth development system spearheaded by the Japan Football Association and I have no doubts this title will strengthen the foundations for many more years of success for football in the country.”
The riveting AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 will be remembered for the remarkable rise of the Continent’s developing sides with India and Indonesia reaching the final eight for the first time since 2002 and 1990 respectively.
The greatest display of grit and tenacity, however, came from Tajikistan, who shrugged off their opening day 6-2 defeat at the hands of hosts Malaysia to seal a place in their maiden final in all AFC age-group competitions.
Shaikh Salman added: “Tajikistan’s achievement in securing their place in the final and reaching their first FIFA U-17 World Cup in 11 years deserves special recognition and once again exemplifies the remarkable progress of our developing nations to close the gap with the Continent’s traditional powerhouses.
“I am confident that all our four teams will stand proudly with the world’s best teams on the ultimate stage in Peru next year.”
Shaikh Salman also praised the Local Organising Committee for delivering a truly memorable tournament. He said: “In line with the AFC’s Vision and Mission, the AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 provided the ultimate stage for our stars of tomorrow to showcase their exceptional talent.
“I must thank the Football Association of Malaysia, the Local Organising Committee, the extraordinary volunteers and everyone who worked behind the scenes to deliver a truly top-class tournament.”
The AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 also recorded a historic high on the AFC’s social media channels with the AFC’s Facebook page achieving an impressive reach of over 10.7 million impressions, an enormous 1018% increase from the highly-successively 2016 edition in India.
Meanwhile, the AFC’s Instagram account (@theafchub) witnessed a similarly impressive growth, with 14.6 million impressions and 1.3 million likes. The AFC’s Twitter account also exceeded the numbers recorded from the previous edition with 6.4 million impressions compared to just 1.9 million two years ago.
Similarly, the-AFC.com was also a success at engaging with fans and serving as a vital resource platform for members of the media around the world, with over 744,891-page views.