VIENTIANE (2 June 2012) – Australia and Japan battled to a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the AFF Under-16 Preparatory Tournament here at the Lao National Stadium this afternoon.
In the highly anticipated tie as both teams gear up for the AFC Under-16 Championship later this September, it was Japan who grabbed the lead in the 44th minute through Koji Miyoshi before Jack Iredale headed in the equalizer just four minutes after the restart.
But it was the Australians who had the better start with Lawrence Hanna’s weak shot in the very first minute of play coming off the upright while Alexander Gersbach’s attempt some time later went straight to Japanese custodian Yuya Nagasawa.
After absorbing much of the early pressure, Japan finally found the rhythm to push forward as they forced their presence in midfield. Ryoma Watanabe fired in a shot from 15metres out on 26 minute that forced a scrambling save from Jordan Thurtell.
And while Japan might have rued being denied the lead in the 38th minute when Koki Sugimori was denied by Thurtell, there was no refuting the side from the land of the rising sun the goal when Miyoshi ran in from the left before releasing a screamer to the top left hand corner of the Australian goal. The score at the end of the first half was 1-0 to Japan.
RefereeMohamed Yazeen Buhari (in the middle in blue/black kit) at the start of the match between Australia and Japan
Always dangerous, Australia began the second half very much the same way they had done in the first – full of tenacity as they made their physical presence felt all the way through.
Just four minutes in, the concession of a free kick to the right of the Japan goal would turn the pace of the game as Australia turned in a floater that was headed into goal by the waiting Iredale at the far post.
The score stands at 1-1.
Both teams then made several substitutions with the hope of clinching the winner. It was Australia who came the closest in the 76th minute but Daniel Da Silva failed to make it count where after rounding off keeper Nagasawa, his shot ricocheted off the woodwork instead.
AFF UNDER-16 PREPARATORY TOURNAMENT 2012
(All matches at the Lao National Stadium, KM16)
2 June 2012: AUSTRALIA 1 JAPAN 1 / Thailand vs Laos (1900)
4 June 2012: Japan vs Thailand (1600) / Laos vs Australia (1900)
6 June 2012: Australia vs Thailand (1600) / Japan vs Laos (1900)
8 June 2012: 3rd position vs 4th position (1600) / Winner vs Runner-up (1900)