Japan will look to return to winning ways against debutants New Caledonia and grab a knockout berth in a Group E fixture of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Kolkata on Saturday.
Japan’s rousing start to their campaign was halted by France as the East Asian powerhouse suffered a 1-2 defeat to hand their opponents a knockout berth in Guwahati two days ago.
Having shifted base to the iconic venue for the group stage climax, Japan will look to make short work of the debutants. New Caledonia, the newest member from the Oceania, have already leaked 12 goals already in two matches as another lopsided contest is on offer.
In their last outing, Japan trailed France by two goals but the Yoshiro Moriyama-coached side showed character to create chances. The best of those opportunities was a free-kick from Keito Nakamura, and that took a big deflection off the France wall and flew just wide.
At the other end, Maxence Caqueret was unlucky not to see a long-range strike hit the target before the break as Japan halved the deficit through a Taisei Miyashiro penalty.
Striker Keito Nakamura, who scored tournament’s first hat-trick in their 6-1 win over Honduras, will once again look to pile misery on the debutants. The islanders have scored their only goal of the meet through defender Sidri Wadenges, and their inexperience was
out in the open when they scored two own goals Iwa Bernard and Kiam Wanesse against France.
A 0-5 defeat to Honduras followed as the wide gap between the Islanders and the other teams became all too apparent. “Now the excitement is behind us. We’re going to put in a lot of work and stay more focused for the final group match,” New Caledonia goalkeeper Une Kecine said.
It will be interesting to see how they cope up against a rampant Japan featuring in their eighth World Cup appearance as their veteran coach Yoshiro Moriyama can afford to rest their star players.
Japan netted an incredible 24 goals, almost twice as many as any of their rivals, in five matches of the AFC U-16 Championship in Goa last year.
Japan: Kosei Tani, Zion Suzuki, Togo Umeda, Taichi Yamasaki, Takumu Kemmotsu, Nobuki Iketaka, Yukinari Sugawara, Yuki Kobayashi, Seiya Baba; Rei Hirakawa, Shimpei Fukuoka, Kohei Okuno, Soichiro Kozuki, Naoki Tsubaki, Hinata Kida, Toichi Suzuki; Takefusa Kubo, Keito Nakamura, Taisei Miyashiro, Akito Tanahashi, Hiroto Yamada.
New Caledonia: Une Kecine, Gaizka Ipeze, Robin Escorne; Kiam Wanesse, Raoul Wenisso, Sidri Wadenges, Bernard Iwa, Josue Welepane, Hnautra Enoka, Joshua Hlemu; Jekob Jeno, Cyril Nyipie, Pierre Bako, Paul Wananije, Neil Wahiobe, Gale Luewadia; Vita Longue, Titouan Richard, Lionel Thahnaena, Theo Bosshard.