ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS in SHARJAH: Kosei Uryu’s goal in the 15th minute was enough to separate Japan and Russia in the second match of Group D of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 at Sharjah Stadium.

The closely-contested match, which started with like-for-like attempts at goal, changed direction in the 15th minute after Japan’s swift passing game carved open a space for Kosei Uryu to unleash an unstoppable shot from distance into the Russian net.

From that moment, the game swung in the direction of the Japanese with their clever moves only to be stopped in the final third by the brave goalkeeping of Russia’s Anton Mitryushkin.

The second half started in a frenetic pace as the Russians spent the better part of the opening minutes in the Japanese half, trying to claw their way back into the game. But the Japanese defence stood like the rock of Gibraltar to constantly deny them with last ditch clearances.

Despite the compactness and resolute defending of the Japanese, little breakthroughs were presented to the Russians.

In the 63rd minute, a rare terrible back pass from Japan saw IImir Nurisov with a glorious chance to score, but he could not make up his mind in time and was quickly closed down by the Japanese defense, with the clearance falling to fellow striker Sheidaev Ramil who had a clear path to goal, only to let Japan off the hook by his lack of idea at the crucial moment.

An identical opportunity presented itself in the 68th but once again the chance went begging.

As the game dragged on, Japan soon got their passing groove back and started piling on pressure, which resulted in them getting 68 percent possession in the game.

The last four minutes of regular time witnessed desperate attempts by both side to gain advantage; the Russians throwing caution to the wind and leaving the back door open, but all to no avail as Japan ran out winners to the delight of their drumming supporters.

Japan coach Hirofumi Yoshitake was pleased with his team‘s effort: “In the first half we did well with positioning in each sector, we were very compact. In the second half we wanted to make more space against the Russians.

“We wanted to keep our team with no goals and it was very good for our experience; we still have many matches so we hope our players improve through this tournament.”

Russian coach Dmitry Khomukha praised the Japanese team: “I think both of the teams were a little bit confused at the beginning, but the Japanese team were controlling the ball perfectly and it was hard for our players to take control.”

* This article appeared first on AIPSMedia.com, the website of the international sports journalists association which is running a Young Reporters course in UAE with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA