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Yuki vows to lead by example

Tabriz: Japan will be making their first appearance in the AFC U-20 Futsal Championship final on Saturday, and captain Hatakeyama Yuki is looking to inspire his teammates through his performance. 

Japan dethroned Islamic Republic of Iran with an impressive 8-4 win in Thursday’s semi-final, having forced extra-time when they came from behind to tie the match 4-4 with just 40 seconds on the clock. 

Japan then turned on the power in extra time with four different goalscorers, including Yuki, to walk away with the win and an inaugural place in the final.

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Yuki said head coach Ryuki Suzuki’s half-time half time pep talk galvanised Japan.

“I am very happy to have defeated Iran and qualify for the final,” said Yuki. "They are such a strong team and it is never easy to defeat them.

“We scored first but Iran equalised immediately. The coach then told us we should stay positive and keep fighting. I am glad we kept on pushing as this is a big result for us.”

Yuki and his teammates are about to play in the most important match of their careers, and the 19-year-old has the added pressure of wearing the captain's band.

“As the captain, I want to motivate and lead my teammates through my plays and performance.”

Japan will face Afghanistan in the final and Yuki said he has been told of the players to watch out for.

“I haven’t seen much of Afghanistan’s play, but I heard that they have players who are good at dribbling and shooting. I will be cautious of those players.”

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