AFC U-16: Vietnam, Japan enter quarterfinals

Vietnam was less of an attacking threat in the second period, opting to sit back and defend in the knowledge that a point would confirm its passage to the last eight. Whereas in another encounter, Japan gave Australia a mountain to climb as it kept on scoring after short intervals making the final scoreline 6-0.

Vietnam booked a quarter-final date with Islamic Republic of Iran in the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 after a 3-1 winver Kyrgyzstan saw the Southeast Asians claim the runner-up spot in Group B on Thursday. The Central Asians opened the scoring early on at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium through Gulzhigit Alykulov only for Vietnam’s Nguyen Khac Khiem to hit back 20 minutes in as the tie remained firmly in the balance at the interval.

The unlucky Emir Shigaibaev headed into his own net after a mistake by goalkeeper Elgard Sychev on 80 minutes before substitute Nguyen Tran Viet Cuong rounded off the scoring three minutes from time as Vietnam set up a clash with Group A winners Iran on Sunday.

Needing to overcome its Southeast Asian opponents to advance to the quarter-finals at the first time of asking, Kyrgyzstan responded in the perfect fashion to its 8-0 reversal to Japan by taking the lead in the sixth minute.

Alykulov picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and broke into the left side of the penalty area before shifting it to his right foot and curling a delightful effort from just inside the box beyond the reach of goalkeeper Huynh Huu Tuan into the bottom left corner. Fresh from its stunning come-from-behind win over Australia, though, Vietnam fought back strongly and was back on level terms thanks to Khac Khiem’s goal on 20 minutes.

Nguyen Huu Thang delivered a dangerous inswinging free-kick from the right that was only partially cleared by the Kyrgyzstan defence, and when Nguyen Xuan Kien’s volley back in deflected up onto the bar Khac Khiem was on hand to tap home.

Vietnam began to control the game thereafter with Huu Thang dictating the play from the centre of the park. And the ball ended up in the Kyrgyzstan net once more three minutes before half-time after Shigaibaev’s miscued clearance from Ngyuen Huynh Sang’s low cross, but the midfielder was fortunate to see the assistant referee had flagged for an earlier offside.

Then shortly before the hour Samat Suimaliev’s team came close as Gulzhigit Borubaev’s free-kick from 25 yards was touched onto the crossbar and over by Huu Tuan. Vietnam was less of an attacking threat in the second period, opting to sit back and defend in the knowledge that a point would confirm its passage to the last eight.

Kyrgyzstan then threw midfielder Adilet Kanybekov, scorer of its only previous goal of the campaign, and striker Aziret Momoshev into the mix ahead of the final 10 minutes as Suimaliev made his final roll of the dice. But then an almighty blunder by Sychev in the 80th minute all but sealed Kyrgyzstan's fate.

Substitute Vu Dinh Hai’s floated free-kick from the right looked to be a simple catch for the custodian but the ball slipped through his hands, off the head of Shigaibaev and over the line. And Vietnam wrapped up the win with three minutes to play as Dinh Hai’s low cross from the left was side-footed across Sychev and into the bottom right corner by Tran Viet Cuong.

“Our players didn’t start the game well and they began strongly which made it difficult for us. However, there was a lot of time left after their goal so we had time to change some things and motivate the players, I told them to get close together and support each other.

"As we said before, the target was not to draw. We had to set them a higher target than that so they would try harder – if we went for a draw maybe the players wouldn’t try as hard. We told them at half-time to attack more and keep trying to score more goals. Fortunately, their goalkeeper’s mistake gave us the chance so, of course, we had a bit of luck.”, said Vietnam coach Dinh The Nam."

“We scored a very quick goal but after that I don’t know what happened. I think they panicked and they didn’t play their game. We made some mistakes and we were punished for them. We played a team with a strong character, as we saw against Australia. My players tried their best but I’d like to congratulate the Vietnam team. Today we gave them the ball and gave them chances to score.

"Considering it was our first participation in such a big tournament of course there was a lack of experience and confidence but life goes on. We didn’t show our best over the three games. Unfortunately, our dream came to an end. At the same time our players gained a valuable experience and I also did as a coach.", said Kyrgyzstan coach Samat Suimaliev.

In the other match, Group B winners Japan cruised into the AFC U-16 Championship India 2016 quarter-finals after thrashing already-eliminated Australia 6-0 at GMC Stadium on Thursday. The Australia 'keeper was being kept busy as Toichi Suzuki then forced Suman into a sprawling save before he tipped over Miyashiro's rising drive as Japan dominated the opening spells.

Miyashiro, Sehata and Matsumoto scored respectively the second, third and fourth goal for the japanese side. Later joining the party, Kozuki netted fifth goal for Japan, followed by Tanahashi to demolish the Aussie side by 6-0.

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