| VIENTIANE (Oct 25, 2007) – The Laos Under-16 team opened their campaign in Group F of the AFC U16 qualifiers with a 2-0 loss to Japan last night at the Stadion Lebak Bulus in Jakarta.
However, the results were not reflective of the way Laos played against the defending champions where they were in control for the better part of the opening exchanges.
Utilising an attacking 4-3-3 formation, Laos were controlling ball possession in the first half hour of the game before Japan pushed forward through the enterprising Takashi Usami.
Several unfinished chances later saw both teams trooping into the dressing room all even as they look to the second half to gain further advantage.
Laos began the second half stronger but the failure of striker Sopha Saysana to make full use of a chance in the 52nd minute saw Japan wresting the initiative for Tatsuya Uchida to take the lead two minutes later.
Captain Gaku Shibazaki then made it 2-0 for Japan after making full use of a pass from Usami to slot the ball home.
“Apart from the physical aspect, we have to admit that Japan is way ahead of us in almost all other areas,” said Laos head coach Soulinthone Seumlamvanh.
In the meantime in the other match of the day, Cambodia scored one of their best results in recent times when they held Vietnam to a 1-1 draw.
Huynh Van Thanh had given Vietnam the lead in the 58th minute but substitute Keo Sokpheng was on hand for the equaliser in the 70th minute.
After the first round of matches, Japan (3pts) are at the top of the standings to be followed by Cambodia (1pt), Vietnam (1pt) and Laos (0pt).
The other two teams in the group Hong Kong and host Indonesia will only begin their campaign tomorrow.
TOMORROW’S FIXTURES (All matches at the Stadion Lebak Bulus)
1600hrs: Hong Kong vs Indonesia
1815hrs: Cambodia vs Japan