Japan on course as Thailand, Iraq and IR Iran suffer defeats
Buenos Aires: It was a day of mixed fortunes for Asian teams at the 2018 Youth Olympics Buenos Aires on Wednesday as only Japan registered a win while Thailand, Iraq and Islamic Republic of Iran suffered defeats.
Iraq's hopes of advancing to the semi-finals suffered a blow when they fell to a 3-2 defeat against Egypt in a Group A tie.
Iraq went into the match on four points, having opened with a 1-1 draw with Panama and defeating Slovakia 5-0 but Egypt proved to be worthy challengers.
In an exciting match at the Main Futsal Hall, Egypt took a 2-0 lead through Belal Elsayed (7th) and Youssif Mohsen (10th) but Iraq were a changed side in the second half.
Mohammed Faeq reduced the deficit in the 21st minute and after incessant pressure, the West Asians drew level through Hussein Sabri in the 32nd.
Egypt, however, took the lead again through Mohsen in the 33rd and defended valiantly to grab all three points and take top spot in the standings.
Up next for Iraq are Argentina and only a win will do as the South Americans - who also have four points - will still have a match to play after that, against Panama on Saturday.
Iran also found South American giants Brazil too strong as they fell to a 4-0 defeat in Group B.
Goals by Guilhermao (1st, 16th), Neguinho (29th) and Moura (38th) gave Brazil their second consecutive win.
Iran's semi-finals hopes are still alive as they play Russia on Friday and Costa Rica a day later to complete their group stage fixtures. The Central Asians opened their campaign with a 9-2 win over Solomon Islands on Sunday.
In the women's event, Japan scored their second win after seeing off a tough Chile 4-1 in Group D.
Japan took the lead through Mai Miyamoto in the 13th but Grace Mora drew Chile level with a 17th minute strike as the teams went into the break with everything still to play for.
Chile kept pressing when the match resumed but Miu Maeda gave Japan some breathing room with her effort in the 23rd minute.
Four minutes later, Japan pulled further ahead through Ichika Arai and the win was sealed when Lissette Carrasco put the ball into her own net as Japan added to the 6-2 triumph over Cameroon on Monday.
The East Asians face Dominican Republic later on Thursday and another three points will take them to within sight of the semi-finals. Portugal top the group with nine points from three matches with Japan second.
There was no joy for Thailand in Group C though as they fell 6-4 to Bolivia.
The Southeast Asians went into the match with one win in two games and needed to defeat Bolivia to keep their semi-final hopes in their own hands but the South Americans produced a stunning performance to record their second triumph.
In a thrilling encounter, Bolivia led 2-0 through Fabiana Alvarez (8th) and Maria Galvez (18th) only for Yuphawadi Chadaeng (18, 19th) to spectacularly bring Thailand back into the match.
Aide Mendiola restored Bolivia's lead in the 20th but Chadaeng drew Thailand level again a minute into the second half.
Galvez (22nd) and Karyme Fernandez (25th) then gave Bolivia a two-goal lead only for Paerploy Huajaipetch to pull Thailand within one in the 33rd but as they threw players forward, Galvez secured her hat-trick in the 39th to seal an exciting win.
Thailand opened their campaign with a 14-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago before falling 6-2 to Spain and face Tonga in their final group match with their fate now out of their hands with Spain and Bolivia the favourites to advance to the semi-finals.
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