Group A: Japan cruise to top spot
Chonburi: Japan sailed into the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 semi-finals as Group A winners after beating Thailand 8-0 at the Chonburi Stadium on Saturday.
The three-time champions will face the Group B runners-up in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
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Japan came into the tie knowing they only needed a draw to go through, and head coach Michihisa Kano made six changes to the starting lineup from their previous match as he opted to field mainly the 11 who had played against Australia on Matchday One.
However, Ririka Tanno and Maika Hamano - who scored two goals each against Bangladesh three days ago - kept their places.
Japan settled quickly but hosts Thailand were determined to exit the tournament on a high and, for the opening period at least, kept the East Asians at bay.
Thailand custodian Pawarisa Homyamyen made some good early saves but the incessant Japanese pressure meant it would only be a matter of time before she was beaten.
That came in the 28th minute when Hamano, receiving Aemu Oyama’s brilliant pass, slotted home to break the deadlock.
Thailand head coach Kaenson Nauephon moved quickly to strengthen his defence as he sent on Oumarpon Sronhirun but it was to no avail as Hanon Nishio rose highest to head home Japan’s second in the 31st minute.
Three minutes later, an exchange of passes between Oyama and Hamano ended with Nishio laying the finishing touch from close range.
Homyamyen had been Thailand’s stand out player in the first half but the custodian was beaten again four minutes into the second half as Hamano was quick to react to a rebound off Suzu Amano’s strike.
A minute later, substitute Kanako Asakura’s pass found Tanno who beat Homyamyen for her third goal of the tournament.
Oyama eventually got into the goalscoring action when she was left unchallenged in her run towards Homyamyen, and she let loose a crackling strike from outside the box into the top left corner of the net in the 61st minute.
Palita Jindasari replaced Homyamyen in the 65th minute due to an injury but she couldn’t deny Inose’s effort from close range five minutes later.
Amano had the final say with her effort four minutes from time to seal Japan’s emphatic victory and an eighth appearance in the knockout stage.
Kaenson Naruephon: Thailand head coach
“Japan is a high quality team, and we can’t beat them. They are mentally strong and we need to learn from that. As we conceded more goals, our girls were mentally defeated as well. These girls will continue on as our U-19 team, but currently, we don’t have a wide range of talent, which is why we depended on a few main players. In the future, I’m sure we will have more choices to select from. We have to review this tournament, and improve our players’ physicality and nutrition. We must be strict in drilling basic tactics, if not, we won’t be able to beat world class teams.”
Michihisa Kano: Japan head coach
“We tried to be active and move aggressively from the start. It was hard to get the first goal, but after that, we kept pushing and the second eventually came, and then so on. Our players analysed the game very well. Our aim for this stage of the tournament was to go through as group leaders, and we have achieved this. Our overall goal was to play all five games in the tournament, and moving forward, whoever we face, we will adjust accordingly.”
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