FIFA U-17 World Cup: Japan look to improve on previous showings
Japan has failed to make it beyond the quarterfinals in the previous editions of the FIFA U-17 World Cup, something The Blue Samurai will hope to improve on this year.fifa u17 world cup 2017 Updated: Sep 23, 2017 19:33 IST
Japan reached the quarter-finals in the first World Cup they qualified for as hosts in 1993 under Tadatoshi Komine. The next time they got that far was in 2011, topping a group that had Argentina, France and Jamaica.
The Blue Samurai blanked New Zealand 6-0 in the next round but missed the last-four berth after losing to Brazil 3-2. This team has some players equated with some legends but coach Yoshiro Moriyama wants his boys to play with 2018 Russia World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics in mind.
“This is just the beginning; the world is before them,” he has said. As expected of the Japanese, they have played a slew of friendlies this year to ensure a through preparation.
KNOW THE COACH: Yoshiro Moriyama
Yoshiro Moriyama, 49, is a former Japan defender who has vast experience playing and coaching in the J-League.His boys are known to favour a very compact style of play with a lot of emphasis on percentage football involving swift counter-attacks sandwiched between defensive play. The free-scoring form of the Japanese in the AFC Under-16 championship --- 24 goals in five games --- underscored the effectiveness of Moriyama’s strategy.
PAST U-17 PERFORMANCE: Quarter-finals: 1993, 2011. Round of 16: 2013. Group stage: 1995, 2001, 2007, 2009. Did not qualify: 1985-91, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2015.
PASSAGE TO INDIA: Japan earned a ticket to India by virtue of an impressive performance in the 2016 AFC Under-16 championship.
Results in AFC U-16: Bt Vietnam 7-0; bt Kyrgyzstan 8-0; bt Australia 6-0 (Round 1); Bt UAE 1-0 (Quarter-finals); Lost to Iraq 4-2 (Semi finals)
POSSIBLE GAME CHANGERS
Name: Takefusa Kubo
Club: FC Tokyo
Why he is special: Dubbed as the Japanese Messi, he is the youngest player to score in the J-League and represented Japan at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May this year.
Name: Hiroto Yamada
Club: Cerozo Osaka
Why he is special: Speed and dribbling skill made him the first player born in 2000 to make an appearance in the senior Japanese football league system.
Name: Kosei Tani
Club: Gamba Osaka Youth
Why he is special: Three clean sheets in the Asian U-16 last year helped Japan progress to the semi-finals.