Qualifiers - Group J: Japan through to Finals
Vientiane: Defending champions Japan booked their spot in the Finals despite settling for a 2-2 draw with Malaysia in Group J of the AFC U-16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers at the Lao National Stadium on Sunday.
Japan topped the group with seven points after three matches while Malaysia finished third in the group after Laos edged Cambodia 1-0 in the group's other tie on Sunday.
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Japan 2-2 Malaysia
Japan were the better side in the first half and threatened in the 17th minute when Sorato Morimoto came close to scoring from inside the box but pulled his effort wide after receiving Hiroto Suzuki’s through pass.
The East Asians should have scored in the 32nd minute when Rui Osako fed the ball to Yamato Naito, who forced a save from Malaysia goalkeeper Zulhilmi Sharani but with the open goal at his mercy, Suzuki put his effort wide from close range.
Japan continued to press Malaysia in the second half and came close to finding the net in the 57th minute but Naito, who muscled his way into the box, fired his effort straight into the arms of Zulhilmi.
Japan finally broke the deadlock in the 64th minute after Zulhilmi received a straight red card for bringing down Yoshiki Narahara inside the penalty area and Osako made no mistake from the spot.
Despite playing with 10 men, Malaysia came back fighting and almost levelled the score in the 68th minute but Mohamad Khairil's low drive was saved by Japan goalkeeper Ginjiro Ikegaya.
Malaysia, however, were given a lifeline when they were awarded a spot-kick after Mohamad Khairil was felled inside the penalty area and Muhammad Daniel Edzuan converted the penalty.
2020 AFC U-16 Championship Qualifiers Group J Matchday #3 | Sunday, 22nd September 2019— FA Malaysia (@FAM_Malaysia) September 22, 2019
JAPAN 2-2 MALAYSIA
Rui Osako 63’-P Yamato Naito 90’+4;
Daniel Edzuan 73’-P 82’#FAM #HarimauMalaya #AFCU16Q pic.twitter.com/CCOpCwKAAq
The goal gave Malaysia extra momentum as they went ahead in the 83rd minute through Muhammad Daniel’s header from Muhammad Aliff Izwan’s corner.
However, Japan dug deep and equalised late in added time through Naito’s header following Taishin Yamazaki’s cross from the left to seal their spot in the Finals.
Cambodia 0-1 Laos
Laos came into the tie on the back of their 1-0 win over Malaysia and they started aggressively against Cambodia.
Their fast approach paid off as Anantaza Siphongphan’s gave them the lead in the 25th minute goal.
It was a lead the Southeast Asians were not to relinquish as they finished second in the group.
Photos: Lao Football Federation
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