FIFA U17 World Cup 2017

FIFA U17 World Cup: Japan held 1-1 by spirited New Caledonia

[caption id="attachment_56407" align="aligncenter" width="580"]WhatsApp Image 2017-10-14 at 6.18.00 PM The Asian giants Japan were held 1-1 by the fancied opponents from the French territory in a Group E clash. Image Source: XtraTime[/caption]

Kolkata: A late strike from Jekob Jeno gave debutants New Caledonia their first points in the FIFA U17 World Cup against Japan here at the Salt Lake Stadium. The Asian giants were held 1-1 by the fancied opponents from the French territory in a Group E clash.

Japan took the lead as early in the seventh minute through Keito Nakamura. The Japanese midfielder dribbled past the fragile Les Cagous defence from the right to score his fourth goal in three matches as it looked a walk in the park for the Japanese who toyed the World Cup debutants' defence. But the islanders had the last laugh as captain Jekob Jena scored the equalizer in the 83rd minute.

The draw however was enough for the 'Blue Samurai' juniors to seal a fourth pre-quarterfinal, for the first time since Mexico-2013 in their eighth U-17 World Cup appearance.

Japan finished second behind France (9) with four points in group E.

New Caledonia scored their first point in their maiden in the U-17 World Cup appearance to return home with some pride after leaking 12 goals from two matches.

Making nine changes in their starting line-up, Japan almost took a second minute lead when Naoki Tsubaki right-footer from the left side of the six-yard box missed the target.

The OFC qualifiers seemed lucky and must thank the woodwork for conceding just one goal at the break.

Two minutes later, Akito Tanahashi's shot hit the upright as Japan were denied by the post again late in the first-half when Taichi Yamasaki's header from the centre of the box hit the right post.

Japan enjoyed a 69 per cent ball posession in the first-half but could not add up to their tally.

In the 34th minute Nakamura's right footed shot from the centre of the box was blocked by Pierre Bako, while in the 42nd minute his shot from the centre of the box was again blocked.

New Caledonia had their first attempt at goal by Theo Bosshard in the 31st minute but only to miss an open net in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Togo Umeda who made his U-17 World Cup debut.

The islanders almost scored in the 82nd minute when Vita Longue's left footer from a Neil Wahiobe assist missed the far post by a few inches as they made some inroads into the Japan box with a late surge.

A minute later, Jeno's headed home their second goal from very close range to the bottom left corner after being set up by Bako with a headed pass following a corner as the OFC qualifiers returned home with their heads held high.

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