VIENTIANE (4 June 2012) – Japan staked their claim for a place in the final of the tournament this year when they beat Thailand 3-0 on the second match day of the AFF Under-16 Preparatory Tournament here at the Lao National Stadium.
The Japanese had earlier held Australia to a 1-1 draw in their first match.
And this evening with Thailand needing an outright win following their close 1-0 loss to hosts Laos two days earlier, there was pressure on both teams to deliver.
But the more composed Japanese would soon dictate the pace and eventually the outcome. Just two minutes into the game, Japan were already 1-0 when the unmarked Watanabe Ryoma shot to the left of the Thai goal as custodian Apirak Worawong went to the right.
Utilising Motegi Rikiya and Maetani Takahiro as the two centre backs and pushing Kota Miyamoto to the right kept the Thai forwards at bay as Japan pushed forward in number.
In the 29th minute, with Apirak out of position, the attempt from Kamata Hiroyoshi was cleared on the line.
With seconds remaining of the first half, Japan finally made it count when a play back from Kamata was put into goal by the waiting Watanabe.
The score at the end of the first half was 2-0.
With the Thai midfield unable to win much of the possession as Kittikai Juntaraksa struggled to beat Saito Shota in the battle at the centre of the park, it was always going to be a struggle for the two Thai forwards – Phicha Utara and Sittichok Kannoo – to be amply supported.
As Japan then clinched the full three points with the third goal of the game through Aoyama Hiroaki in the 65th minute, Kittikai expressed his frustration by getting himself red carded.
In the 77th minute, Kittikai tackled Kamata from the back which instantly drew a red card reaction from Philippines referee Steve Supresencia.
AFF UNDER-16 PREPARATORY TOURNAMENT 2012
(All matches at the Lao National Stadium, KM16)
2 June 2012: AUSTRALIA 1 JAPAN 1 / THAILAND 0 LAOS 1
4 June 2012: JAPAN 3 THAILAND 0 / 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)