Preview - MD3 Group A: Thailand vs Japan
Chonburi: Semi-final berths will be on the line when Group A concludes at the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 on Saturday, but implementing his side’s style is nearly as important as the result according to Japan head coach Michihisa Kano.
Kano’s side are one of three teams in the group still in contention to advance to the knockout stage, with Matchday Three opponents Thailand and Australia – who meet Bangladesh - also targeting a place in the final four.
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Their AFC U-16 Women’s Championship future - and hopes of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup - may be in the balance, but Japan's Kano simply wants his side to stick to the plan.
The three-time winners went from a 0-0 draw with Australia to a 9-0 win over Bangladesh in their opening two matches, but those contrasting results were each met with a similar tranquillity by Kano, who reiterated his desire for the Little Nadeshiko to carry out their tactical blueprint against Thailand.
“Our first priority is to execute our plans. Whoever our opponents are, we focus on what we need to do and can do, and that has always been our theme,” said the Japanese boss
“My impressions of Thailand are that they can build up from the back very well, but our concept is to play aggressively, through our offence and defence. We would like to impose our style of play against the Thai team.”
The East Asians were untouchable in their victory over Bangladesh, but while they were a class above their opponents on that occasion, their tournament could come to an abrupt end if they fail to repeat the dose.
No team in Group A has secured their place in the semi-finals going into the final day, with much resting on the outcome of the meeting between the tournament hosts and the only nation to have won FIFA Women’s World Cups at all three age levels.
While a draw will be enough to take Japan through to an eighth consecutive semi-final, Thailand must shake off a 6-1 defeat to Australia and produce a positive result against one of the Continent’s traditional powers if they are to advance.
Despite his side’s heavy defeat on Wednesday, Thailand head coach Naruephon Kaenson said there were long term positives to be taken from the experience.
Down 4-0 at half-time, Thailand fought on and produced a more competitive second-half, something Kaenson wants to see reproduced against a nation which hasn’t lost a group stage match at the tournament since 2009.
“After half time the (Australia) game got better for the girls,” said the Thai boss. “We didn’t stop or give up, which was important, both now and into the future. Because of that, I was so happy with their mentality.
“Every team wants to get a winning result, what it is important is that the girls can produce what we have trained for. That’s what matters, regardless of what the result is.”
THAILAND v JAPAN
Chonburi Stadium, Chonburi
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