Matchday four of the AFC U-16 Championship kicked off with two contrasting games on Sunday. Thailand thumped hosts Malaysia 4-2 and Tajikistan held Japan to a goalless stalemate.
Thailand managed to put a humiliating 5-2 defeat to Japan in their opening game behind them and rally to a dominant 4-2 win over hosts Malaysia.
The hosts missed the services of first choice custodian Sikh Izhan Nazrel who was serving his suspension from Malaysia’s 6-2 win over Tajikistan in the opener. Forward Suphanat ,who was a constant threat for Malaysia, opened the scoring in the third minute after a defensive lapse.
The hosts fought back through Luqman ten minutes later, only to have the deficit restored as Suphanat doubled his tally. The hosts’ fighting spirit was visible as Firdaus Bin Kaironnisam levelled the scores just after half-time. Unfortunately for the young tigers, Luqman was given his marching orders in the 54th minute.
Thailand made good use of the extra man as they found the back of the net through Warangon Thongbai almost immediately. Substitute Iramet Janngam scored late on to ensure that the War Elephants took all three points from the fixture. Thailand will be facing Tajikistan in a crucial final group stage game as Malaysia look to overcome two-time champions Japan.
The second group A game played on Sunday saw Tajikistan take on a heavily rotated Japan side. Coach Yoshiro Moriyama made seven changes to the team that beat Thailand 5-2. Tajikistan needed a point to stay alive in the tournament and a brilliant defensive performance ensured that they achieved this.
The minnows came close through Sharifbek Rahmatov’s freekick in the 22nd minute but Japanese custodian Taishi Brandon Nozawa did not have to break a sweat over it. Japan failed to make use of all the dominance in possession and the score-line remained a fair reflection of the game as it ended 0-0.
Meanwhile, India will be looking to build on their positive start to the tournament after defeating Vietnam 1-0. A stern test awaits the blue tigers on Monday in the form of a redemption-seeking Iran side who will be looking to bounce back from their 0-2 defeat to Indonesia in their opener.