ENITAN OBADINA / AIPS in SHARJAH: Japan ended Tunisia’s unbeaten run at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 courtesy of two strikes in six minutes in a game decided by late drama.
Tunisia showed early nerves with misplaced passes in the first and fourth minutes on which Japan failed to capitalise; they managed to test the goalkeeper only once.
Content on correcting their mistakes, Tunisia sat back to soak the pressure only launching occasional counter attacks to relieve the pressure.
In the eight minute Hazem Haj Hassen received a defence splitting pass out of midfield and rounded goalkeeper Mizuki Hayashi, who tripped him. Referee Norbert Hauata from Tahiti waived away penalty protests.
Tunisia gained their reward, however, in the first minute of first-half stoppage time. Sabri Akrout crossed low from the right, Hazem Haj Hassen jabbed the ball on and Mohammed Drager’s took a slight deflection past Hayashi.
Not wanting to risk their lead, Tunisia made a tactical error that cost them the game allowing the Japanese to run at them while they sat back in defence in the second half.
With 70 percent of the possession, Japan’s control of the game paid off later on in the space of six minutes.
In the 86th minute, Rached Afraoui intercepted a pass to Daisuke Sakai, only for the ball to bobble off the posts and roll into the net.
Same again, in the third minute of the four added minutes. Another pass from the edge of the box reached Ryoma Watanabe. He fed Takuma Mizutani on the left flank and the return pass left Watanabe with the easiest of tap-ins to secure victory.
* AIPS, the international sports journalists association, is running a Young Reporters course at the FIFA U-17 World Cup UAE 2013 with the support of the local organising committee and FIFA
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