KUALA LUMPUR: Two-time champions Japan bounced back from being left behind one goal before sinking 1998 champions Thailand 5-2 at the opening game of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under 16 Championship (B-16) at Universiti Malaya Arena Stadium here on Thursday night. In the action, Thailand first opened the scoring in the first minute of the game through an attempt inside the penalty box via Waragon Thongbai.
Jarred by the goal, the Samurai Blue young squad spruced up their game and managed to equalise in the sixth minute through a powerful kick by Ryotaro Araki, before Kuraba Kondo slotted into goal a pass by Araki for Japan’s second goal in the eighth minute. Thailand, however, managed to equalize in the 14th minute via a Suphanat Mueanta’s ground shot although the Japanese players claimed the opponent was in the offside position when scoring the goal. Araki placed Japan ahead in the 34th minute after heading in a short pass from his teammate, before captain Riku Handa scored in the 41st minute after pushing in the ball which the Thai defenders failed to clear from the penalty box.
The two teams were constantly attacking their opponent’s goal, but fate was more favourable to Japan which scored the fifth goal via substitute Shoji Toyama, who easily pushed in a pass from a teammate in the 90th minute.
Earlier, the national U-16 squad won a comfortable 6-2 win over Tajikistan in the Group A opening match which took place in the afternoon at National Stadium, Bukit Jalil. Malaysia would face Thailand at the National Stadium while Japan would face Tajikistan at the University Malaya Arena Stadium in the second group A action. Both matches would take place on September 23. – Bernama