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AFC U16 Championship

Tajikistan 0 Japan 0: All still to play for in Group A as Tajikistan hold Japan

10:44 PM MYT 23/09/2018
Tajikistan U16, Japan, U16, AFC U16 Championship, 23092018
Tajikistan re-lit the dying embers of their qualification hopes in the AFC U-16 Championship, when they held Japan to a goalless draw on Sunday.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Tajikistan re-lit the dying embers of their qualification hopes in Group A of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship, when they held a second-string Japan to a goalless draw in their Group A match on Sunday.

Tajikistan boss Rakhimov Zaynidin kept his faith in the same squad who fell 6-2 in their Group A opening match to hosts Malaysia; only bringing on Emomali Ahmadkhon and Sharipov Jonibek, for Panzhiev Ozodbek and Kamolov Amadoni.

Japanese head coach Moriyama Yoshiro meanwhile retained less than half of the players who started in their 6-2 win over Thailand on Thursday. Only defender and skipper Riku Handa, and midfielders Asahi Yokokawa, Kuraba Kondo and Ryotaro Araki, started on Sunday.

Despite playing with mostly their second squad, Japan were superior in the early stages of the match. They dominated most of the possession near the Tajik danger area, and was only hampered by their forwards and midfielders' inability to gel when it mattered.

Zaynidin's charges meanwhile were reduced to making counter-attacks and taking hopeful shots from outside the box.

The first half ended goalless.

At the start of the second half, Yoshiro made his first change; oddly enough a defender for another, with Kohshiro Sumi coming on for Nao Yamada.

Keita Nakano almost found the first goal one minute in, but his shot from outside ended up over the crossbar.

Just after the hour mark, Japan made their second substitution; Jun Nishikawa came on for forward Yusuke Aoki; alike-for-like change.

With twenty minutes left, Tajikistan simply decided to shut up shop and go for the one point, which they succeeded in doing until the final whistle was blown.

The result and the 4-2 win by Thailand over hosts Malaysia earlier in the evening meant there's still all to play four in the final matchday of Group A. As it stands, Japan lead with four points, Thailand second with three and Malaysia third with three, and Tajikistan bottom with one point.

This Wednesday, Malaysia will play Japan, and Tajikistan will take on Thailand.


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