FIFA U17: Solid France ekes out smooth win over Japan

Be it in the formation, or in the choice of players, coach Lionel Rouxel showed why he is considered a shrewd tactician as France defeated Japan 2-1 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.

Amine Gouiri (9), Pintor (18) and Yacine Adli celebrate after scoring France’s second goal on Wednesday.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

France’s tactical superiority was in full display in its 2-1 win over Japan in a Group-E match of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Wednesday.

Be it in the formation, or in the choice of players, coach Lionel Rouxel showed why he is considered a shrewd tactician.

MATCH CENTRE

The boys implemented Rouxel’s vision for a grand win and the triumph over the Asian giant should help France virtually top the Group and qualify for the knockout. It next plays Honduras on October 14 here in its last group contest while Japan travels to Kolkata for its last match the same day to play against New Caledonia.

Starting with an attacking 4-3-3 formation to Japan’s similar 3-4-3, France scored on virtually all fronts.

Star striker

Amine Gouiri, undoubtedly was the Man of the Match. The striker’s speed and control, backed by impeccable shooting, gave jitters to Japan’s defence. His twin strikes sealed the contest for France. The 17-year-old has now four goals from two matches, and is leading the goal scorers’ tally. Be it in aerial balls, having a strong defensive structure or in making incessant moves in to the rival’s box, France proved to be several notches higher.

Honduras v New Caledonia Match Centre

The height factor heavily tilted in favour of the European powerhouse. To Japan’s feeble attempts upfront, France made more than half-a-dozen competent moves in the first half, though it considerably slowed down in the second half. From the beginning, France showed its intent to attack and through long balls that tested the Japanese.

‘Height and size matters’

One such effort resulted in the first goal. Maxence Caqueret’s aerial pass from the defence saw Aminie speed past defenders to score through the legs of the ‘keeper Kosei Tani. Yacine Adli, who was largely quiet, got into the act with a delightful combination with Amine. His assist provided the second goal, where Amine was spot-on with his right-footer. The lone goal for Japan came through a penalty scored by Taisei Miyashiro.

France and Japan made two changes each from their previous matches. While France got in Lenny Pintor (who was effective) and Maxence Lacrois in the place of Willem Geubbles and Andy Pelmard in the starting XI, Japan introduced Kohei Okuno and Seiya Baba for Shimpei Fukuoka and Toichi Suzuka. Rouxel admitted that it was a tactical match. “We were waiting for this. We have qualified [for round of 16]. [But] it is just the beginning,” he said.

Japanese coach Yoshiro Moriyama admitted that height was one of the factors. “It is the truth. Height and size [matters],” he said.

Later in the day, a brace each by Carlos Mejia and Patrick Palacios enabled Honduras script a 5-0 win over New Caledonia. With the victory, Honduras is expected to finish third ahead of New Caledonia.

The results

Group-E: France 2 (Amine Gouiri 13 & 71) bt Japan 1 (Taisei Miyashiro 73); Honduras 5 (Carlos Mejia 25, 42, Joshua Canales 27, Patrick Palacios 51 & 88) bt New Caledonia 0.

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