AFC U-23 CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFIERS: GROUP J - JAPAN 8-0 PHILIPPINES
Phnom Penh: Four goals from Ren Komatsu helped Japan get their 2018 AFC U-23 Championship Group J qualifying campaign off to a flying start on Wednesday as the competition’s title holders secured a comfortable 8-0 win over the Philippines.
Despite torrential rain at Phnom Penh’s National Olympic Stadium threatening to spoil the game as a spectacle, Japan mastered the conditions early on and took a tenth minute lead when Tsukasa Morishima received the ball just inside the box and fired home an unstoppable strike off the underside of the bar to open the scoring.
Komatsu duly doubled Japan’s lead on 23 minutes as he ghosted in behind the Filipino defence to connect with Morishima’s teasing cross from the left, before he made the most of a Richard Talaroc error to bag his second - and Japan’s third - of the game just six minutes later.
Morishima duly added a second strike of his own from close range shortly after the half hour mark, before Komatsu completed his hat-trick with three minutes of the half remaining when he connected with captain Daisuke Sakai’s cross to send Japan into the break five goals to the good.
The irrepressible forward then notched his fourth less than a minute after the restart, tapping home Daisuke Sakai’s whipped cross into the box from ten yards out.
Further efforts from Yuka Nakasaka and Ito Hiroki before the full-time whistle added further gloss to the scoreline that reasserted Japan’s intent to qualify for next year’s continental gathering.
Japan coach Uchiyama Atsushi “Despite the weather, and the rain, our players lost a bit of concentration. But it was a good result for an opening game. The Philippines were well organised in defence and they did well on the counter attack. But we tried to show that we are stronger.” “We know it will be very difficult in our next game against Cambodia especially as they have home advantage. But of course, we will try because we want to win.
Philippines coach Marlon Maro “We were exposed and it’s always a challenge against teams like Japan. But we will have to learnfrom the experience.”