July 2 – Japan won the men’s U17 Asian Cup with a 3-0 dismantling of South Korea at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand on Sunday.
Two goals from Gaku Nawata and the third from Yutaka Michiwaki secured the win against the Koreans who were reduced to 10 men for the whole of the second half.
It is the fourth win for Japan of this AFC age-group title which is in the first edition of an U17 competition, having previously been for U16. Japan and South Korea had already qualified for the Indonesia 2023 U17 World Cup alongside the two other semi-finalists Iran and Uzbekistan.
Japan went into the final as favourites and lived up to their billing, and could have been two up in the first 20 minutes but the Koreans were resilient and in a game that was relentlessly box to box made chances of their own.
The game break came when in the 43rd minute Ko Jong-hyun was dismissed for a second yellow card for a foul on Michiwaki just outside the box.
Nawata stepped up for the first of his two goals and struck the free kick over the wall and past a despairing Hong Seong-min in South Korea’s goal.
Japan wasted no time using their numerical advantage in the second half, pinning the Koreans in their own half. On 66 minutes an unmarked Kohei Mochizuki received the ball, nutmegged Kim Hyun-min before feeding Nawata for his and Japan’s second.
South Korea don’t give up and pushed forward looking to get back in the game but deep into added time Michiwaki scored to make it 3-0.
Nawata was named Most Valuable Player of the AFC U17 Asian Cup Thailand 2023 while his two goals saw his tournament total go to five and make give him the Cremo Top Goalscorer award.
Promising that there was more to come, and with sights now set on the U17 World Cup, he said: “I am very happy to win these two awards. Now I want to do my best for the (FIFA U17) World Cup.During the course of the competition, I had the opportunity to score many goals but failed to do so. I am glad that I was able to play a big role in our triumph today. We will, as a team, work hard to improve for the World Cup as our target is to, at least, reach the semi-finals.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org