Australia’s U17 National Team – the Joeys - have been beaten by Japan in the semi-finals of the 2018 AFC U-16 Championships at Malaysia’s National Stadium on Thursday night.
Trevor Morgan’s side led 1-0 at half-time but were run down by the Samurai Blue youngsters after the break, eventually going down 3-1.
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While they will be disappointed to have missed out on a spot in the final, the Aussie youngsters had already secured their berth at next year’s FIFA U17 World Cup in Peru by making the last four.
They made the perfect start in the semi-final too, taking an early lead through a penalty by Noah Botic.
Botic took advantage of some sloppy play by Japan to surge into the box before he was taken down and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
The classy teenager showed nerves of steel to convert his penalty, taking his tally at the tournament to five goals.
The Joeys defended superbly to keep their advantage heading into the break, with keeper Adam Pavlesic showing great reflexes to stop Keita Nakano’s shot.
Japan drew level early in the second half with Shoji Toyama squeezing a shot past Pavlesic from a tight angle.
Toyama scored his second midway through the half to put the Samurai Blue in front for the first time before Shunsuke Mito ended any hopes of a Joeys comeback with a third with 13 minutes left.
“In the end, Japan deserved their victory today," Morgan told www.the-afc.com.
"The first half, we started strong and should have capitalised on our chances. The challenge for us going into the World Cup is to be fitter, smarter. It’s a good lesson today.”
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