Japan came from a goal down to defeat North Korea 2-1 in the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship final in Chonburi Thailand.
Both nations had entered the final with their qalifications booked for the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held in India in 2020. Japan had dispatched China PR 2-0 while North Korea had defeated Australia by 3-0 in the other semifinal.
This paved the way for the finals as both teams knew that it was the title that was at stake. North Korea a defending champion were looking to retain the title while Japan were seeking to win the title for a record four times.
The game began with end to end action in the opening five minutes as both teams tested each other with chances. North Korea made the perfect start when Hong Song-Ok scored from the penalty spot in the ninth minute.
Japan hit back quickly with Suzu Hamano equalizing in the 19 minute before Manaka Hayashi struck the winner four minutes later.
North Korea tried to push for the equalizer missing host of chances to draw level. While Japan also had chances to finish off the game on the counter. However, Japan held on to win the title for a record fourth time.
Japan manager Michihisa Kano revealed after the game that the players were calm and able to read the situation of the game after conceding the early penalty. Japan also carted home the major individual honors with Hamano winning the Golden Boot with five goals. Nishio won the Most Valuable Player award.
North Korea and Japan are two of the most successful teams in the FIFA U-17. Japan won their only title in 2014 while North Korea have two titles in 2008 and 2016. Both teams will be confident of their chances going into the tournament which is to be held in India in 2020.