Japan face Honduras test in Group E fixture
Guwahati, Oct 7 (PTI) Asian giants Japan will eye a positive start when they lock horns with Honduras in the FIFA U-17 World Cup here tomorrow.
The Japanese, who have reached the quarter-finals in 1993, when they hosted the tournament as debutants, will take it one match at a time and are not thinking beyond their tournament opener at the moment.
In the 2011 edition, they created a flutter by topping a group that included world football heavyweights Argentina, France and Jamaica on their way to the quarterfinals.
Japan entered the tournament after playing quite a few friendlies and an intense preparatory phase.
They will gain from the fact that they have a very seasoned coach in Yoshiro Moriyama, a former Japan defender who has vast experience playing and coaching in the J-League.
The Asian nation secured a ticket to India by virtue of an impressive performance in the 2016 AFC Under-16 championship.
Without an iota of doubt, the player to watch out for is striker Takefusa Kubo. Dubbed as the Japanese Messi, he is the youngest player to score in the J-League and represented Japan at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May this year.
Another forward, Cerozo Osaka, also has the skills to make an impression.
The South American nation, Honduras have managed to regularly qualify for the tournament since 2007. They were knocked out of the first two editions but managed to reach the quarterfinals in 2013 in the UAE.
In between, they missed the 2011 edition and failed to register a single win in the last edition in Chile two years ago.
In the qualification race, Honduras finished second behind Costa Rica in the Central American zone qualifiers to reach the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
At the CONCACAF U-17 Championship 2017, they were in Group A with hosts Panama, Curacao and Haiti.
Although they went down 2-4 to Panama, victories against Curacao and Haiti paved the way for qualification to the classification round.
They were defeated 0-3 by USA in their final game but a 7-1 drubbing of Cuba confirmed their entry in the tournament proper