U-17 World Cup: Japan to rest several key players against New Caledonia, says coach

Kolkata, Oct 13 (IANS) Japan coach Hirofumi Yoshitake on Friday said the Asian heavyweights will rest several players ahead of their Group E clash against minnows New Caledonia and give the others an opportunity in order to test their strengths ahead of the knockout stages.

A win on Saturday will see Japan seal their berth in the pre-quarterfinals, and with debutants New Caledonia losing both their matches by high margins, it seems improbable the result will be otherwise.

“We need to win in order to go to the next round. There are some players who are eager to play on the pitch and we will know who can be the key players when we get to the next stage. So we will have some new players and some who played in the previous two matches and balance can be maintained by that,” Yoshitake told reporters after their first training session at the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan here.

If Japan finish second with France topping the group, they will face England if the latter top Group F. England have a clean slate after two games and will be facing Iraq on Saturday.

“England is a strong team with strong individuals. Using our passes and our strength we can play a good game and we will play our football,” midfielder Naoki Tsubaki said when asked about facing England.

Japanese prodigy Takefusa Kubo is also likely to start on the bench alongwith Keito Nakamura. Asked about Kubo, the coach said: “We are not depending on one player. For us, Nakamura is the top scorer and we can play our own football whoever is on the pitch. Lets see for you who can be the star player.”

Nakamura scored a brace against Honduras in the first game. Japan won by 6-1 and lost to France 2-1.

“We started the tournament well with first game win. Against France, we took some good lessons on the things we need to fix before the knockout stages. We will use those lessons for the next matches,” coach Yoshitake said.

Yoshitake added that from the knockout stages, every match will be like a final.

“Once we are in the knockout stages every match is a final. We will take one game at a time thinking it will be a final match. We will go ahead like that.”

Japan have three points from two matches.

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