Japan were crowned as winners at the AFC U16 Championships in Kuala Lumpur this weekend. The Samurai Blue pulled off a 1-0 victory in the final over Tajikistan in the final, with a goal from Jun Nishikawa sealing the deal for the island nation.
The two finalists met previously at this tournament in Group A. Widely considered to be the “group of death,” Japan and Tajikistan had to eliminate both Thailand and hosts Malaysia in order to advance to the knockout stages.
Both sides have confirmed their place at the AFC U17 World Cup in Peru this year, as have losing semi-finalists Australia and South Korea.
After coming through the group stage, Oman, North Korea, India and Indonesia all missed out on qualification to the tournament in South America due to their elimination in the quarter finals.
This victory completes a very good year Japan in footballing terms. The Samurai Blues qualified for the knockout stage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, eliminating talented teams such as Poland and Senegal in the process. Additionally, the side won Gold at the 2018 Asian Games, despite sending an u-21 side to a tournament designed for players under the age of 23.