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Riffa: A brace from Koki Ogawa helped earn Japan a 4-0 victory over AFC U-19 Championship Bahrain 2016 quarter-final opponents Tajikistan and with it a place in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017 on Monday.

Goals from Ogawa and Ritsu Doan before the break handed Japan a two-goal advantage in the first half before further goals from Ogawa and strike partner Yuto Iwasaki gave the young Samurai Blue an unassailable lead at Bahrain National Stadium.

Tajikistan looked to soak up the early pressure, just as they had done to good effect in the group stages, but Japan took the game to them, hitting early and hard.

Mizuki Ichimaru’s long punt forward in the 9th minute from near the centre circle found Koki Ogawa’s run into the box but his towering header drifted across the face of goal and came off the post.

Tajikistan failed to clear the danger though and Japan got a second bite of the cherry as Ritsu Doan bisected two defenders with his cross back into the box from the right.

Ogawa made no mistake this time round, leaping once again at the far post to head the ball down and through goalkeeper Behruz Khayriev’s legs.

Nine minutes later, Japan’s lead was doubled as Koji Miyoshi’s run down the left left his marker tumbling head over heels as he played a crossfield ball to Ritsu Doan just inside the right edge of the 18-yard box.

Doan took a touch, looked up at the scrambling Tajikistan defenders and then calmly curled the ball into the top left corner of the goal.

Japan were still pouring forward relentlessly despite their early lead, as Miyoshi whipped a free kick into the box for Takehiro Tomiyasu to stab at with an outstretched foot but Khayriev went to ground and made the block.


Tajikistan finally had a rare chance in the 42nd minute as captain Karomatullo Saidov stole the ball off Fujitani, rushing into the box and laying the ball off for Ehsoni Panshanbe but the latter’s shot was charged down and Mukhsinzhon Parpiev could not get any power into the follow-up effort which bobbled to a grateful Ryosuke Kojima in goal.

Try as they might, the Central Asians could not find the key to unlocking Japan’s defence as their opponents continued their positive attacking play after the break.

Azimchon Rakhmonov lunged in late on Ogawa in the 72nd minute, handing Japan yet another free kick on the edge of the box.

The Japanese forward did not need a second invitation, picking himself up and curling a delicious effort into the Tajikistan goal.

Japan captain Daisuke Sakai then found Iwasaki with a perfectly weighted ball in the box two minutes before the end of regulation time as the striker held off his marker and shot low into the opposite corner of the goal for Japan’s fourth.

Photo: AFC