Japan has secured six points at the U-17 World Cup and moved closer to qualifying for the round of 16. It’s not a good result for South Korea, which hopes to make a case.
Japan defeated Senegal 2-0 in their final Group D match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2023 on Sunday at the Sisalat Harupat Stadium in Bandung, Indonesia.
After a curious start with a 1-0 win over 스포츠토토 Poland in their first match, Japan faltered with a loss to Argentina but improved to 2-1-1 (6 points, +1) with the win over Senegal. Tied with Senegal and Argentina for six points, Japan is in third place on goal difference.
The direct tickets to the Round of 16, awarded to first and second place in the group, went to Argentina (+5) and Senegal (+2). However, Japan’s six points gave them the best chance of qualifying for the round of 16, which is awarded to the top four teams in the group.
Japan was in a must-win situation, but struggled against Senegal throughout the first half. Senegal opened the scoring two minutes into the first half with a mid-range shot from Saliu Faye. Three minutes later, defender Gui Lima intercepted a Japanese pass and took a shot of his own. Senegal continued to threaten Japan and had a shot on target in the first 15 minutes.
Senegal, who were in control of the game, had a setback midway through the first half when a number of players went down. In particular, backup goalkeeper Serigne Diouf went down with an injury in the 31st minute, forcing the backup to step up. Even before the end of the first half, Faye and Amara Diouf had to be substituted.
Still, Senegal, who had already qualified for the round of 16, took it easy and created more scoring chances than Japan. The second half followed a similar pattern, with Japan making more substitutions and their mercenary skills paying off. Rento Takaoka, who came on in the 10th minute of the second half, finished off a cross from the right with a header just seven minutes later.
With the lead, Japan got a little lucky. In the 27th minute of the second half, Takaoka pressured the Senegalese goalkeeper to steal the ball and easily slotted home a second goal to seal the 2-0 victory.
The final match between Poland and Argentina, played at the same time, ended in a 4-0 victory for the offensively explosive Argentines. Argentina took the lead in the 34th minute when Thiago Laplace scored the first goal of the game.
With a 1-0 lead to start the second half, Agustin Roberto added a second goal. Roberto was in fine form, scoring in all three group games. With the game firmly in hand, Ian Subiabre added a third goal seven minutes into the second half to complete the rout.
Argentina advanced to the round of 16 with a 2-1-1 record and top spot in the group, while Poland, who lost all three of their matches, finished last.
With Japan’s win, the number of cases of Byunsung Hwan-ho turned even more red. South Korea remains in third place in Group E after losing to the United States (1-3) and France (0-1) in the tournament. After a big final win over Burkina Faso, who also lost twice, they will have to look to the wild card, which is awarded to the top four teams out of three.
Things got worse. Even if South Korea beats Burkina Faso, they can’t get past third-place Japan (6 points) in Group D and third-place Uzbekistan (4 points) in Group B. In the upcoming Group C, Brazil and Iran already have three points, so they could have an advantage over South Korea depending on the outcome of the final match.
For South Korea to reach the round of 16, the best they can hope for is for Mexico (1 point), the third-place team in Group F, to draw with New Zealand (0 points). South Korea would then need to defeat Burkina Faso to earn a spot in the last 16.