Japan repeated their feat from two years ago after they beat Oman 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship on Sunday to give them one of the four slots to the U17 World Cup in Peru next year.
Jun Nishikawa forced Oman into conceding the first goal early in the match but saw Oman coming back strongly into the match to grab an important equaliser through Tariq Khamis to send both teams into half time on level pegging.
But Toshiro's masterstroke in bringing on Shoji Toyama for Ryotaro Araki in the second half swung the advantage back into Japan's favour. Chances after chances were created before Toyama finally finished off a cross from Nishikawa that sent Japan through to the World Cup.
"I took over this team since the beginning of this year and we've been preparing for this opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, so I'm really happy right now. It was difficult to play against a team that has good strikers. Normally they play with two strikers but today they played with one up top and one shadow. Once they got the ball, they play really quick football, we struggled but we got the good result."
"We started out with Nishikawa up front with Araki as the shadow striker. They have a good combination. We struggled a little bit in the first half. Toyama is really good at taking defenders behind. We knew the last 20 minutes of games like these, he's really effective so we switched it up a little bit between the two halves," said Toshiro in the post-match press conference.
Japan will now be keeping their eye on the Indonesia and Australia clash today as one of the two will be their opponent in the next match. While winning the tournament remains one of the priorities for the team, Toshiro is habouring hopes of giving the lesser lights in his team, their time in the limelight.
"Now that we've accomplished one of our goals to qualify for the World Cup, maybe we'll switch it up for the next game. Some players only played a little bit of time and those that haven't even played are happy but with something to show. A few players are also tired after this game. It'll be good for everyone to experience playing at this stage," he added.
All of which suggests the manner in which Toshiro and his Japanese team approach the tournament. Where result and development go hand in hand and not one over the other.
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