Saudi, Japan in AFC U-19 Cup final

Saudi, Japan in AFC U-19 Cup final

Saudi, Japan in AFC U-19 Cup final

(Manama) – Saudi Arabia and Japan stormed into the final of the AFC U-19 Football Championship, being held in Bahrain.
In action-packed semi-final matches, Saudi Arabia halted a comeback by contenders Iran to register a hard-fought 6-5 victory, then Japan saw off Vietnam 3-0 to set up the final showdown on Monday.
All four teams went in to last night’s semi-finals without much pressure, knowing they have qualified for next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in South Korea.
Late on yesterday, Shunta Nakamura fired a brace in the 10th and 51st minutes after Takeru Kishimoto had opened the scoring in the sixth minute to give Japan a well-earned victory over tournament surprise Vietnam at the National Stadium.
Playing at Khalifa Sports City Stadium, Abdulrahman Al Yami scored a hat-trick and captain Sami Al Naji scored twice while Ayman Al Khulaif was also on the scoresheet for Saad Al Shehri-coached Saudis.
The Saudis took the lead on 18 minutes, thanks to a penalty-kick conversion from skipper Al Naji. Three minutes before the break, the Saudis doubled their lead with a fine passing move, which was capitalized by Al Khulaif.
Coached by Amir Peiravani, Iran pulled one back just before half-time when Reza Jafari took advantage of a sloppy Saudi defending to smash the ball beyond Al Bukhari.
However, the Saudis restored their two-goal cushion right after the restart when Al Khulaif cut the ball back at the corner for Al Yami to score.
The Iranians reduced the deficit to one as the Saudi defence struggled to clear Abolfazl Razzaghpour’s corner and Aghasi, whose initial header was only half-cleared, struck through a crowd of players to leave the score 3-2 at the break.
Six minutes after the restart, Saudi Arabia notched up another with Al Naji claiming his second after starting and finishing a move with Al Yami before striking beyond Adeli.
Once more, Iran pulled a goal back when, in the 62nd minute, Shekari netted from close range after Al Bukhari carelessly parried Razzaghpour’s free kick.
But just two minutes later, the Saudis restored their two-goal advantage when Al Yami claimed his second after Al Khulaif’s one-two with Al Naji.
With 15 minutes remaining, Iran regained some hope scoring the fourth goals as substitute Sina Khadempour’s long throw was sidefooted past Al Bukhari by Mehdikhani.
But a minute later, the Saudis struck again as Al Yami completed his hat-trick after wriggling his way through the Iranian defence.
Back came the Iranians again and, with seven minutes to go, they claimed their fifth when Karmollachaab beat Al Bukhari low and at his near post with a perfectly executed overhead kick.