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Malaysia’s Luqman one of AFC U-16 Championship top-scorers despite playing only two matches – football news


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


After the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship ended with Japan edging Tajikistan 1-0 in the final match, hosts Malaysia ended with a consolation prize.

Striker Luqman Hakim Shamsudin ended the tournament as joint top-scorer with five goals, alongside Australia’s Noah Botic and Japan’s Shoji Toyama.

He was presented with the award after the final match on Sunday, which was held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Incredibly, unlike Botic and Toyama, Luqman recorded his tournament tally in fewer outings. Malaysia failed past to advance past the group stage, while Luqman himself only played in two matches, with his last match in the tournament taking place two whole weeks before the final match.

Malaysia had opened their campaign in blistering fashion, thumping eventual finalists Tajikistan 6-2 in the opener, with the forward scoring four goals in the victory.

Malaysia vs Tajikistan highlights

He added his fifth in the following game, against neighbours Thailand, but it was all downhill from there for him and Malaysia. In the second half Luqman was shown a straight red for a clumsy challenge, and ten-man Malaysia would lose 4-2 in the encounter. Missing his clinical finishing in their next group match, a must-win clash against Japan, the Young Tigers would go on to lose 2-0 meekly to the eventual champions, and exit the tournament, nowhere near their objective of reaching the semis to qualify for the 2019 World Cup U-17.

In comparison, Toyama and Botic both played in five matches for their respective sides.

Although the achievement may have provided Malaysian fans with some optimisim at what the future might hold, it surely has also made them wonder of what might have been, had the host team played less recklessly in their first two matches.

Cruising 5-1 against Tajikistan, goalkeeper Sikh Izhan Nazrel Sikh Azman was shown a red card for a needless lunge, and Malaysia were without him against Thailand. Second custodian Abdul Alim Al Amri Ali failed to perform as confidently as Izhan, and committed repeated goalkeeping mistakes that allowed the Thais to score four goals in the clash.

But all is not over for Luqman and his National Football Development Programme cohort, as they have shown that they have the potential to advance to the older age groups. While the future of the programme itself is being debated currently, the youth footballers must be allowed to continue their training and progress.

 

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Japan’s incredible squad waltzed into AFC final – football news

Seven changes, that is what Moriyama Toshiro did in the semi-final of the AFC U16 Championship against Australia compared to the starting eleven that was paraded in the win over Oman in the quarterfinal. Despite that, Japan still walked away with a very handsome 3-1 win against their fellow U17 World Cup qualifier.

Only centre back Riku Handa, right back Kohshiro Sumi, defensive midfielder Asahi Yokokawa and attacking midfielder Hiraku Naruoka kept their places but Japan still managed to tore into an inferior Australian side with a little help some half time substitutions.

Trailing to a first half goal from Australia’s Noah Botic, the introduction of star player Jun Nishikawa lighted the flame of revival for Japan that culminated in a 20 minutes period in the second half where the match swung completely to the side of the young Samurai Blues.

Shoji Toyama grabbed a brace to continue his good goalscoring run in the tournament before Shunsuke Mito added the icing on the cake and sent Japan through to their first final since the 2012 edition that was held in Iran.

Jun Nishikawa, Japan U16, AFC U16 Championship

“For this match, we switched a lot of players to give a chance to players that didn’t get much playing time before. We conceded the first goal but after that we created many chances but couldn’t finish,” said Toshiro in the post-match press conference.

“One of the keys for this victory was the second half where we managed to steal the ball from the opponent and having Nishikawa on the pitch just raised the whole quality on the pitch as he could calm down the play.

“I haven’t decided the starting XI yet (for the final). We have to see the conditions of the players, some of them have small injuries. Obviously some players have played a lot of minutes, so it’ll depend on the recovery in the next few days.”

Japan have won four of the five matches that they have played in the tournament thus far in their run to the final. Ironically, the only match which they did not win was the group stage match against Tajikistan, who will be their opponent in the final.

 

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Morgan’s charges kept their belief in themselves – football news


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Australia have advanced to the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship semi-finals and reached the 2019 World Cup U-17, following their 3-2 quarter-final win over Indonesia on Monday.

Indonesia opened the scoring in the match that was held at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium through Sutan Zico’s 17th minute goal, but Trevor Morgan’s boys piled the pressure on their opponents in the second half to score three goals. Indonesia pulled one back in the final moments, but could not find the equaliser.

Indonesia vs Australia match highlights

Speaking in the post-match press conference, Morgan described what he told his charges at halftime, when they were trailing to the Indonesians.

“I told my boys that they could play better, and that they had played exceptionally well before conceding.

“At halftime I made them maintain their focus again, to play like they always had. I told my players to anticipate Indonesia’s strengths as they had massive talent. The goal would come, and that’s what eventually happened,” said Morgan. 

Australia will face off against Japan in the semi-finals this Thursday, at 4.30 Malaysian time. The match will be held at Bukit Jalil.

 

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Tajikistan had a rough start to their 2018 AFC U-16 Championship campaign, but completed a stunning turnaround to defeat DPR Korea on penalties in the quarter-finals, to reach the semis and the 2019 U-17 World Cup. Tajikistan bermula longlai dalam Kejohanan AFC B-16 2018, tetapi bangkit dan mara ke peringkat separuh akhir untuk layak ke Piala Dunia B-17 2019, selepas menumpaskan Korea Utara menerusi sepakan penalti di peringkat suku akhir!

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AFC U16 Championship: Bibiano Fernandes believes Indian football has taken a big step – football news

On a bittersweet night for the blue colts, coach Bibiano Fernandes had positive words to light up the mood of the camp. Despite crashing out of the AFC U-16 tournament, the team made an entire nation proud through a brilliant display of defensive discipline throughout the tournament.

Expressing pride at the performance of the team, Bibiano said, “Though we’re out of the competition, I’m very proud of my boys and the work which has been done back home in India.”

“We have definitely made in impression here in the tournament and we have shown that we were not in the quarters by fluke. So I’m very proud that they played well knowing the quality of the Korean team.”

Hailing the second half performance of the young guns, Bibiano believed that everything went as per plan. Going a half without conceding against arguably the best team in the competition is impressive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t sustained until the end.

“In the second half, we played to our strengths which we like to do that is pressing. And we created real problems for the Korean team. In the first half we wanted to not concede any goal and we did a good job. In the second half we tried and tried our best. And at the end we put in a good performance,” the Goan explained.

The team lacked the energy to chase the equaliser after chasing the ball for most of the first half. However, this did not stop Bibiano from lauding the effort the boys put in.

“Yes, it was difficult. They were so good on the ball and we had to do all the running. In the end we put our best and I’m happy with the performance,” he stated.

The coach maintained that the team has laid a solid foundation to build on for the future.

“We’ve taken a big step after qualifying from the group stage after 16 years. And we definitely will be working on this in the future. We will be looking forward for this,” the beamingly proud India U16 coach concluded.

 

 

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Toshiro hints at changes for AFCU16 semis – football news

Japan repeated their feat from two years ago after they beat Oman 2-1 in the quarterfinal of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship on Sunday to give them one of the four slots to the U17 World Cup in Peru next year.

Jun Nishikawa forced Oman into conceding the first goal early in the match but saw Oman coming back strongly into the match to grab an important equaliser through Tariq Khamis to send both teams into half time on level pegging.

But Toshiro’s masterstroke in bringing on Shoji Toyama for Ryotaro Araki in the second half swung the advantage back into Japan’s favour. Chances after chances were created before Toyama finally finished off a cross from Nishikawa that sent Japan through to the World Cup.

“I took over this team since the beginning of this year and we’ve been preparing for this opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, so I’m really happy right now. It was difficult to play against a team that has good strikers. Normally they play with two strikers but today they played with one up top and one shadow. Once they got the ball, they play really quick football, we struggled but we got the good result.”

“We started out with Nishikawa up front with Araki as the shadow striker. They have a good combination. We struggled a little bit in the first half. Toyama is really good at taking defenders behind. We knew the last 20 minutes of games like these, he’s really effective so we switched it up a little bit between the two halves,” said Toshiro in the post-match press conference.

Japan will now be keeping their eye on the Indonesia and Australia clash today as one of the two will be their opponent in the next match. While winning the tournament remains one of the priorities for the team, Toshiro is habouring hopes of giving the lesser lights in his team, their time in the limelight.

“Now that we’ve accomplished one of our goals to qualify for the World Cup, maybe we’ll switch it up for the next game. Some players only played a little bit of time and those that haven’t even played are happy but with something to show. A few players are also tired after this game. It’ll be good for everyone to experience playing at this stage,” he added.

All of which suggests the manner in which Toshiro and his Japanese team approach the tournament. Where result and development go hand in hand and not one over the other. 

 

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Antara kemenangan dan kekalahan. Lihat betapa besar maknanya bila menempah tiket ke Piala Dunia U17! Between winning and losing. Look what it means to book a place at the U17 World Cup! #Japan #Oman #AFCU16 #bukitjalilnationalstadium #GoalMalaysia

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Tajikistan congratulated by country’s president after reaching World Cup and AFC U-16 semis – football news


BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter


Tajikistan underwent one of the best turnarounds in the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship, after reaching the tournament semi-finals and qualifying for the 2019 U-17 World Cup, following their penalty shootout win over DPR Korea in their quarter-final encounter on Sunday.

Having started the group stage with a 6-2 drubbing to hosts Malaysia, they slowly recovered; holding Japan to a 0-0 draw, before edging Thailand 2-1 in a must-win encounter to book their place in the quarter-final stage.

Against the Koreans they opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Rustam Soirov’s strike, and after Ri Hun equalised in the 69th minute, held fast to force the game to be decided by penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Mukhriddin Khasanov then emerged as their hero, saving two spot kicks to help them advance.

Speaking in the post-match press conference, a clearly-elated Tajikistan head coach Zaynidin Rakhimov remarked that the whole country is celebrating the success of reaching the U-17 World Cup for the second time in their history, while the squad had just been congratulated by the country’s president himself.

“After the match just now I received a call from the Tajikistan Football Federation president (Rustam Emomali) congratulating our success, and he added that the country’s president Emomali Rahmon, his father, has also congratulated us. 

“This success is dedicated to my country, and everyone in my city Dushanbe, and the whole country, is celebrating at this moment.

“We had earlier targeted to reach the quarter-finals, but now God has helped us go beyond it and reach the World Cup. So why not go even farther? Before the match I had joked with the Japanese head coach that we might play them in the final, so that may just happen!” he said through an interpreter.

In the semis, Tajikistan will meet the winner of the quarter-final encounter between South Korea and India on Thursday, 8.45 pm Malaysian time.

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Tajikistan had a rough start to their 2018 AFC U-16 Championship campaign, but completed a stunning turnaround to defeat DPR Korea on penalties in the quarter-finals, to reach the semis and the 2019 U-17 World Cup. Tajikistan bermula longlai dalam Kejohanan AFC B-16 2018, tetapi bangkit dan mara ke peringkat separuh akhir untuk layak ke Piala Dunia B-17 2019, selepas menumpaskan Korea Utara menerusi sepakan penalti di peringkat suku akhir!

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Nishikawa takes efficient but unspectacular Japan to World Cup – football news

Japan maintained their status as one of the top footballing nations in Asia as they repeated their effort from two years ago in reaching the FIFA U17 World Cup finals after edging Oman 2-1 in the first quarterfinal played in the 2018 AFC U16 Championship.

There were far less crowd in attendance compared to when Japan last step onto the field against Malaysia and even with Oman offering more resistance than the host, the young Samurai Blues still proved themselves to be worthy winners.

In a team that very much resemble the side that Japan put out during the recent 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, throughout the spine of the team are players that mirrors their more illustrious seniors.

Riku Handa is the calm collective centre back not unlike Maya Yoshida, right back Koshiro Sumi is stocky but blessed with pace and incredibly technical like Yuto Nagatomo and Kakeru Yamauchi is the strong combative figure in the centre of midfield like Makoto Hasebe.

But it is at the focal point of Japan’s attack where the similarity diverged somewhat. In Jun Nishikawa, this Japan U16 side does not have someone who is similar to a Shinji Okazaki or Yoshinori Muto. In many ways, the left footer can be seen remarkably like having a Shunsuke Nakamura as the main striker.

Jun Nishikawa, Japan U16, AFC U16 Championship

At 1.83m, Nishikawa towers above everyone else on the pitch at this level. The 16-year-old who plays for Toko-Gakuen High School is an unassuming figure on the pitch. Tall and languid, it is his intelligence movement and his ability to use his left foot like a wand that makes him stand out.

It was Nishikawa’s run in the 14th minute that set up the opening goal of the match for favourites Japan. He was through on shot and shot past Mitham Ali in Oman’s goal, and even though it was Issa Khalfan’s decisive touch that eventually sent the ball into the net, Japan’s number 10 played a pivotal part in the goal.

Oman, who finished second in Group B behind DPR Korea to reach the quarterfinals did well to stay in the match and even found the equaliser through Tariq Khamis’ header in the 22nd minute to take the game into half time on level pegging.

In the second half, Nishikawa was asked to sit behind substitute Shoji Toyama as Japan went for broke and the former did not even look out of place in the creative role. Numerous times Mitham was called into action and the Omani keeper stood tall to deny at least three good one-on-one chances for Japan.

With time running out and the clock showing 81 minutes, Nishikawa rightfully take his place as the man of the match when he collected a pass from Ryuma Nakano on the left hand side. A quick turn left Rashid Balushi for dead and the subsequent low sharp cross was on a  plate for Toyoma to hit home the winner.

Japan now will now await the winners between Indonesia and Australia as they search for their first title in the competition since 2006 while Oman was left to reflect on what can be only be considered a successful tournament that they last won in 2000.

 

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AFC U-16: India U-16 coach Bibiano Fernandes focussed on keeping a clean sheet against South Korea – football news

India U-16 team have qualified for the knock-out stage of the ongoing AFC U-16 Championship by virtue of being the group runners-up behind leaders Indonesia. In the quarter-finals, they will lock horns against Asian giants South Korea who have put a stellar display in the round robin stage of the competition.

The Red Devils have pumped in 12 goals in three matches and are yet to concede. 

India U-16 head coach Bibiano Fernandes mentioned that Korea are a quality side and that he is focussed on ensuring that his side do not leak in goals.

“Korea has got a good team. They have better players technically in every position. Yes, we have done a good job so far and we have been playing well. I am trying to recover my boys first and we hope to keep a clean sheet in the quarter-final as well.”

“It has been great for the Indian team to qualify for the knock-out stage after 16 years. We have worked really hard for the last few months along with the Indian administration. We know the challenges that lie before us while we take on South Korea. This is what we have been preparing for. We are looking forward to the match and we will give our best,” he added. 

The Goan coach spoke highly of India’s grassroots development programme and the improvement in coach education in the country. 

“India has been doing a good job for the last 10 years. We have been working hard to develop our grassroots programme. The change in coaching education has also helped Indian football to develop. I hope to continue our progress in the future and be prepared to compete at the world stage,” said Fernandes. 

The match between South Korea and India is scheduled on October 1st, 2018 at 1815 IST.

 

 

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Subahan stressed FAM’s hope over NFDP – football news

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have made their stance very clear on what’s next for NFDP in the aftermath of the early exit from the AFC U16 Championship on Thursday morning. The governing body made their move with the ceremonial removal of Lim Teong Kim as the head coach of Malaysia U16 national team immediately after the loss to Japan.

That move seemed to have caused consternation amongt the netizens with many castigating FAM for their swift action after the defeat. Malaysia’s 0-2 defeat to Japan meant that they finished last in Group A despite having started strongly with a 6-2 thrashing of Tajikistan, who ironically joins Japan in the next stage of the competition.

Subahan was officiated the closing ceremony of a coaching course held by the Coaches Association of Malaysia (PJBM) met with the press to explain that the removal or sacking of Lim was the logical next step and that his contract with the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) are two separate issues.

“Lim Teong Kim does not have a contract with FAM. LTK was rightfully the head coach of the U16 because when you want to participate in any AFC tournament, has to be through the parent body which is FAM. LTK’s contract is with KBS so when we compete in the qualifiers, he was made head coach to represent FAM.” 

“After the result yesterday, FAM have made a decision to relieve him of his duty after the end of his duties with the U16. His contract with KBS is up to them and the minister to make,” said Subahan in the press conference held on Friday morning.

After NFDP failed in its first hurdle of reaching the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup by failing to even get out of the group stage, the programme was called into question as to what and where it should go from now.

Malaysia U16, Japan U16, AFC U16 Championship, 27092018

It has been made public that FAM are keen to take over the programme and spearhead it but have yet to come to a conclusion with the ministry on it. Subahan who is the head of FAM’s youth and technical department once again reiterated the governing body’s desire to handle NFDP.

“FAM have actually requested to take over the program if possible. As you know, NFDP have also set up a centre in Gambang where we are supposed to unearth high calibre players to represent the players. So the whole concept is right and we want to take over in a good. Meaning that we want to participate in a good positive way but FAM have to take over the whole show.” 

“Therefore when the new minister came along, I as the chairman of the youth and technical department have had discussion to submit a request for the program to come under our wing so that we can give you the right expertise and knowledge on how to run the program properly. We met the minister at the parliment house two months ago and what we can do.

“Representatives from MSN, ISN, Education ministry and the minister hismself was also there in the meeting. We’ve met 3 times and in those meetings we are requested to send in a proposal. On 21 September through Stuart Ramalingam, we have already sent a proposal to the minister. But at the end, it’s up to the minister to decide.

“Just that at FAM, we are serious in wanting the program to come under our wing, we don’t mind working with any parties but our technical committee should be the one overseeing it. Next Wednesday we will have a meeting to discuss in detailed what needs to be done. Just because we lost doesn’t mean the program has to be closed down. We are honest in wanting to improvise and make it better.

“What we want to do is this. We have a Technical Director who will engage with the state Technical Directors who also report to fam.  The play style, knowledge and right way of playing football to what we want is channeled to every level. we want to synchronise it all,” added Subahan.

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Malaysia U16’s World Cup dreams are over in the AFC U-16 Championship, but head coach Lim Teong Kim still has time for levity in the post-match press conference! Harapan Piala Dunia B-17 pasukan Malaysia B-16 musnah selepas mereka tersingkir awal dari Kejohanan AFC B-16, tetapi jurulatih mereka Lim Teong Kim masih ada kesempatan berlawak dalam sidang media pasca perlawanan!

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AFC U16 Championship: Bibiano Fernandes – Wouldn’t like to face Indonesia again – football news

The Indian national men’s U16 team came out unscathed out of Group C of the 2018 AFC U16 Championship in Malaysia. A goalless stalemate against Indonesia, their second of the tournament was enough to see them finish behind the South-East Asian nation in the group and enter the quarterfinals.

Head coach Bibiano Fernandes remained elated after his side became the first Indian side to qualify from the group stages since 2002. “This is really special because we have qualified (for the next round) after 16 years. It’s not just me. I would like to thank my staff, people who are back home in the administration who are working tirelessly and doing the job well.

“I would like to thank the coaches back home at the grassroots level who had done a good job with these boys and then they joined us when they turned fourteen. Congratulations to each one of us in India who are working in the grassroots communities, schools and societies, who’ve worked hard every day,” he said after the game.

The Goan-born then explained the strategy by which he contained Indonesia. He revealed, “In the first fifteen to twenty minutes in the first half, we decided that we would sit back and not give the opponent any chance behind the defenders because that is where they use the space for long balls. We sat back and suddenly surprised them with high pressing. We kept our doors shut in the first half and did well. 

“In the second half, we played the same game, which we like to do and we have been doing throughout our preparation, which is pressing. At the same time, keep the door locked behind. We had our chances and we could have scored but glad it ended in a draw.”

Simultaneously, Iran and were playing Vietnam and a win for either side and a loss for India would have meant Fernandes’ boys would have to return home early. Although that was not the case, in the end, Fernandes did keep an eye on the other game.

“Yes, I got the news they were leading 3-0 in the first half. I did not tell the boys anything about that because that could have put them under pressure. We just had to go out in the second half and fight till the 90th minute. I heard they won 5-0, thank God we have qualified.

India Indonesia AFC U-16

India are most likely to face the Korea Republic in their quarter-final tie. However, Australia and Iraq are tied at second spot with three points each with South Korea leading Group D with six with a round of matches to go.

“Three days to go. We will think about it. I have seen Korea and Australia play but we will look into Korea. Very strong team and a team that can win the AFC U16 Championship this year.

“We have got boys that can give hundred per cent on that day and you never know, it is a knockout game. On a given day, anything is possible,” commented Fernandes on the ensuing game.

Fernandes was all praise for Indonesia who had previously beaten previous edition’s finalist Iran 3-0 in their first group game and stated that he would not like to face the junior Tim Garudas again.

“Indonesia is so amazing. When they are attacking, they look so swift and is so difficult to stop them. I feel they have good players in attack, (Amiruddin) Bagus and (Sultan) Zico, who is a clinical finisher. (Mochammad) Supriadi is too fast and it is difficult to catch him. We got so many cards because of him. We tried our best.

“No, I don’t want to meet Indonesia (laughs). We will get more cards, maybe a red too. They are too fast. We had our plans for Bagus and Supriadi, we tried to double team over them, every time they got the ball but still, they were getting out from there. They look so easy in attack, when they play one-touch passes and penetrate defences so easily,” he concluded.

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