October 10 – Japan claimed the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship title on Sunday thanks to a narrow 1-0 win over Tajikistan in Malaysia.
Jun Nishikawa’s 63rd minute goal proved the difference at Kuala Lumpur’s National Stadium as Japan overcame their Central Asian opponents to secure a record third success at U-16 level following previous triumphs in 1994 and 2006.
After seeing a Ryuma Nakano header ruled out for offside, Nishikawa, who would go on to be named the competition’s Most Valuable Player, struck shortly after the hour mark when he expertly converted Keita Nakano’s cross to earn Japan the win their performances throughout the tournament richly deserved.
“I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to Japan for displaying great determination to be crowned champions of Asia. Both Japan and Tajikistan battled bravely in a close encounter that showcased the undeniable talent and promise that exists in Asia,” declared AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa after the match.
“Japan’s victory is a testament to the coaches, and the incredible youth development system spearheaded by the Japan Football Association and I have no doubts this title will strengthen the foundations for many more years of success for football in the country.”
Both Japan and Tajikistan, along with losing semi-finalists – Australia and Korea Republic -will now represent Asia at the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru.
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