AFC U16: Australia v Japan semi final preview

By Paul Green, in Malaysia:
Australia will meet Japan on Thursday at the National Stadium in the first of the two semi-finals that day

Already having achieved their primary objective of qualifying for Peru, both teams will see winning the AFC title as a bonus.

While Japan’s coach freely acknowledges that his players are tired and some of them definitely deserve a rest for the semi-final, Trevor Morgan may be more circumspect.

Japan rested seven players for their second match against Tajikistan, who face favourites Korea Republic in the later semi-final, that Group game was to prove a 0-0 stalemate, but with players restored in their next two games Japan were able to progress to the semis after winning a final Group stage match against hosts Malaysia 2-0 and then beating Oman in the Quarter Final.

Trevor Morgan has only used 16 players so far, including both goalkeepers, and is less likely than his 55 year old Japanese counterpart to rest so many of his players.

Asked at the post-match press conference how he would approach the Japan game he was unequivocal.

“We go out and play every game to win. It’s as simple as that.”

If Australia are to overcome the highly-efficient and disciplined Japan in the semi-final they’ll need to eliminate the high count of stray passes and easy losses of possession which we saw in their games against both  Korea Republic and Indonesia.

With the confidence of having scored nine goals in three games now, however, Australia will look to put Japan to the sword this time.

Morgan will need to decide if he is to deploy Hammond and Varga as impact players once more, or start with both and have the lively Roddy and blond-thatched Jordan Bos kept in reserve instead.

Like the Korean’s Japan’s defence is rock-solid, so Australia may try to go for an early advantage by fielding their most creative players from the outset.

Thursday’s game should be a great test of tactics and attacking flair.