Tuesday, April 16, 2024

AFC U-17 Asian Cup: An overview of India’s opponents in Group D

India’s campaign in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup will get underway in just two days, and the Blue Colts have now shifted base from Khao Yai Sports Complex to the Thai capital.

Coach Bibiano Fernandes’ side have had a long and arduous preparation for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, and are now set to take on Group D, where they will face Vietnam (June 17), Uzbekistan (June 20), and defending champion Japan (June 23).

As the clock winds down to the kickoff of Group D, let’s take a look at India’s three opponents.

Vietnam

Vietnam are a well-disciplined unit, known for their fast pace of play, technical ability and creativity to pass the ball around the opposition defenders. They are also known to be solid at the back, having not conceded a single goal in their qualification campaign last year, where they faced Chinese Taipei (4-0), Nepal (5-0), and Thailand (3-0).

Captain Nguyen Cong Phuong is one of the key players of the Vietnam U-17 side, playing a pivotal role in the middle of the park, as he sits back to orchestrate the attacks for his team.

Uzbekistan

Familiar foes Uzbekistan are strong contenders for the AFC U-17 Asian Cup. They had an excellent qualification campaign last year, routing Brunei 14-0, before a last-minute goal helped them win 3-2 against the mighty Republic of Korea.

Captain Lazizbek Mirzaev is one of the players to watch out for, with the Uzbekistan U-17 side, as the attacking midfielder uses his technical ability and creativity to prise open opposition defence.

Earlier this year, Uzbekistan U-17s were crowned champions of the Antalya Youth Cup in Turkey, where they defeated teams like Morocco (2-1), the Czech Republic (1-0), and Australia (2-1).

Ahead of the U-17 Asian Cup, they have played Malaysia once (3-2) and Yemen twice (5-1 and 2-0).

Japan  

Defending champions Japan are the most successful team in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup (previously known as the AFC U-16 Championship), having lifted the trophy on three occasions.

Japan finished top of their group in the AFC U-17 Asian Cup qualifiers, and even ended their qualification campaign without conceding any goals.

Coach Yoshiro Moriyama’s team have slightly altered their approach to the game this time around. While they still possess the ability to control possession of the ball, Japan have recently shown the propensity for quick transitions with two strikers playing up front.

Homare Tokuda, who was their chief goalscorer last year is no longer with the team, and the goalscoring responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Yutaka Michiwaki and Rento Takaoka, who had scored four and three goals, respectively, in Algeria.

Ahead of the AFC U-17 Asian Cup, Japan played a tri-nation tournament in Algeria, where they faced the hosts (3-3), Mali (3-1), and Comoros (6-1). They also played the Copa Joaju last year, where they faced Chile (4-1), Colombia (0-1), and hosts Paraguay (3-3).

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