Japan hold Malaysia, break U16 boys’ hearts

Adam Farhan (right) in action against Japan. (FAM Facebook pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia failed to qualify for the final round of the 2020 AFC Under-16 Championship after drawing 2-2 with Japan in their final Group J match at the Laos National Stadium in Vientiane, today.

The result saw Malaysia finish second in Group J, but they failed to occupy the four best runners-up spots to qualify for the tournament proper after collecting just four points from three matches.

The best 11 teams from Groups A-K make the cut.

Rui Osako broke the deadlock for Japan after converting a penalty in the 63rd minute.

Malaysia then scored two quick goals via Daniel Edzuan in the 73rd and 82nd minutes according to the FA of Malaysia Facebook page.

Yamato Naito, however scored the equaliser for Japan in the dying minutes of the match, helping the East Asian side qualify to the tournament proper as Group J winners.

Earlier, Malaysia were reduced to 10 men after custodian Zulhilmi Sharani was sent off following a foul in the 60th minute inside the box.

Speaking after the match, head coach P Maniam said he was pleased with the performance of the boys.

“We can see a lot of positives as we created a lot of chances. Trailing 1-0 and then leading 2-1 but they managed to equalise because the players lacked focus,” the former international said.

“Overall, I’m proud to coach this team because the players showed good fighting spirit.”