Thailand 2019: 16 memorable moments
Chonburi: Triumph, heartbreak and numerous fabulous goals later, one of the best ever editions of the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship has come to an end, with Japan becoming the champions for a record fourth time.
As the sun sets on another edition of the competition, the-AFC.com reflects of some of the moments which made Thailand 2019 a tournament to remember.
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Thawanrat Promthongmee’s party-starting free-kick
Thailand was once again a gracious host to Asia’s brightest young talents, but it was the home team we were celebrating on opening night, as exciting forward Thawanrat Promthongmee got the tournament off to an unforgettable start with a superb long-range free-kick.
DPR Korea’s perfect 10
Champions in the past two editions, any doubts as to the competitiveness of the 2019 crop of the DPR Korea players was dispelled in a swift and dramatic style as the holders piled on eight second-half goals in a 10-0 win over debutants Vietnam, with Myong Yu-jong’s Johan Cruyff-channelling strike one of the highlights.
Zou scrambles China PR home
A crucial match between two semi-final contenders - China PR and Korea Republic, a goalmouth scramble and an opportunistic finish from a 14-year-old Zou Mengyao in her first continental championship. It wasn’t the prettiest goal in the tournament, but it was one of the most important, setting Chan Yuen Ting’s side up for a semi-final berth.
Hayashi’s wondergoal: Part One
Having been held to a scoreless draw by Australia 72 hours earlier, it took less than 70 seconds for Manaka Hayashi to score against Bangladesh with a magnificent long range effort, which tickled the woodwork before finding the net and provided the rest of the competition with a clear message: Japan were up and running.
Australia hit Thailand for six
Eager to stay in touch with Japan, Australia produced their biggest Finals win since 2013 as they beat Thailand on Matchday Two, with Alana Jancevski, Georgia Beaumont and the impressive Hana Lowry netting two goals each in a 6-1 victory and signalling the arrival of an exciting batch of Junior Matildas' talents.
Magnificent Myong shows her class
With China PR 1-0 down and trying to get to half time without further damage, DPR Korea’s Myong Yu-jong produced a moment of inspiration. Receiving the ball from Hong Song-ok with her back to goal, the forward wriggled free of two Chinese defenders before unleashing an unstoppable strike which flew in off the underside of the crossbar for a goal Myong called the best of her young career.
Jang’s stunning strike
Many teams practice corner kicks in an effort to maximise their chances of scoring, but Korea Republic’s set-piece tactics from here on should be quite simple: Let Jang Jin-yeong take them. The young forward provided one of the memorable goals of Thailand 2019 when her inswinging delivery against Vietnam flew from the corner-flag to the back of the net without any assistance.
Nadeshiko’s brilliant eight-goal romp
Wet pitch? No problem. Japan followed up their nine-goal performance against Bangladesh with eight against Thailand, making light of slippery conditions to show just how talented they are, and send the hosts packing ahead of the knockout stage.
Khatun makes history for Bangladesh
Appearing in the Finals for the second successive edition, Bangladesh were disappointed to be the first team eliminated, but a fighting 2-2 draw with Australia – their first ever point in the competition - ensured they would return to Dhaka with heads held high. Tohura Khatun was the hero for the South Asians, scoring twice to earn a result head coach Golam Robbani Choton called the best in the country’s women’s football history.
Hong’s triple strike
There were plenty of memorable strikes in Chonburi, but no one player produced more of them than Hong Song-ok. The DPR Korea midfielder scored on four occasions, with three of her goals coming from exceptional long-range efforts which have quickly given her the reputation of a scorer of great goals.
Kim’s three-minute masterclass
With a place in the final, as well as the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 on the line, DPR Korea’s Kim Hye-yong turned on a burst of quality which left Australia reeling in Wednesday’s semi-final. The forward opened the scoring from close range in the 17th minute before adding a sensational second three minutes later as DPR Korea made it seven consecutive top two finishes.
With four goals in her previous two matches, Japan’s Maika Hamano started the semi-final against China PR on the bench, but she still managed to make a decisive impact, sealing her side’s progress to the final with her side’s second goal and taking her personally to a Golden Boot-winning five.
Lowry’s lightning start
Australia picked themselves up from their semi-final disappointment in stunning style, scoring in the opening minute of their third-place play-off against China PR. Hana Lowry, one of the brightest Australian talents on show all tournament, took just 28 seconds to find the net, overtaking Japan’s Hayasahi to score the fastest goal of the tournament.
Zou wonder strike seals third place
In a competition which featured top quality strikes on nearly a daily basis, picking the goal of the tournament would have provided an enviable task, but what is without doubt is that China’s best goal came in the dying minutes of their campaign, when Zou Mengyao – who netted their first goal against Korea Republic 12 days earlier – picked out Miranda Templeman’s top corner with a 35-year rocket to seal third place against the Junior Matildas.
Hayashi’s wondergoal: Part Two
She might be a defender, but Manaka Hayashi scores goals any striker would be proud of, particularly so in the final, where she pounced on an intelligent touch from Yuko Inose to thunder the ball into the top corner from 25 yards. The football IQ and pure quality displayed in the goal, and the fact it was scored by a defender, meant it was the perfect way for Japan to seal an unprecedented fourth title.
Japan’s touching celebration
While the 23 Japanese players in Chonburi earned their right to revel in their championship win, they ensured that Yuna Hazekawa, the defender injured on the eve of the tournament, wasn’t forgotten.
Hazekawa’s number 5 shirt featured prominently throughout the Japanese celebrations, sending the message that the youngster remains a valued member of the team, even if she couldn’t be in Thailand this time around.
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