Japan qualifies for the next round with a frustrating draw against New Caledonia
Debutantes New Caledonia crash out of the U17 World Cup while Japan do just enough to qualify.Nakamura’s goal in the 7th minute put the Japanese in front but New Caledonia drew level in the 83rd minute thanks to a goal from Jekob Jeno.
New Caledonia kicked off the game in a 5-4-1 formation while Japan opted to start in a traditional 4-3-3.
Just two minutes into the game and the Japanese were presented with their first chance of the game when Keito Nakamura whipped in a cross from the right-hand side for Naoki Tsubaki only to see the midfielder miss an easy tap-in.
The Blue Samurais were at it again within a minute when Akito Tanahashi’s shot from inside the box hit the woodwork. Japan’s persistent pressure on the New Caledonians though finally paid off when in the 7th minute Keito Nakamura down the right flank finished off a brilliant solo effort with a right footed shot from a difficult angle past the opposition keeper to put his team in front.
New Caledonia’s only real chance in the first half came in the 32nd minute when Jules Omei caught the Japanese off-guard and took a shot from outside the box which ultimately ended up going over the crossbar.
The Japanese came agonisingly close to doubling their lead in the 42nd minute when defender Taichi Yamasaki’s header from a corner hit the woodwork.
The Japanese again dominated proceedings in the second half as the New Caledonians were thoroughly outclassed in every department.
A cause of concern for Japan going forward will be the apparent injury goalscorer Keito Nakamura picked up in the 58th minute. Nakamura was replaced by Yukinari Sugawara.
It was in the 83rd minute though that the New Caledonians pulled one back completely against the run of play when captain Jekob Jeno headed in a goal from a corner.
New Caledonia will have to go back home with a solitary point from the group stage and Japan, despite the stalemate, will now look forward to the knock-out round.