USA to face England in Under-17 World Cup quarterfinals

Gwen Vasquez
October 19, 2017

As the minutes went by and penalties loomed closer and closer - England weren't just up against an invigorated Japanese side pumped up by their flawless execution of a well-thought gameplan over the past 90 minutes, but also history.

The body language of England colts during the tense tie-breaker impressed coach Steve Cooper the most as they reached the quarterfinals of the Federation Internationale de Football Association U-17 World Cup riding a 5-3 win on penalty shootouts against Japan here on Tuesday night.

England have reached the quarters only twice before, in 2007 and 2011.

They came out of the tunnel 15 minutes ahead of England to train and carried that intensity into the game.

"It panned out nearly as it was planned".

Japan coach Yoshiro Moriyama said he wanted Sancho to play as his team is ready to face England at full strength. Captain Shimpei Fukuoka and Rei Hirakawa played their role as holding midfielders to perfection, using up whatever space England's 4-2-3-1 formation could have hoped to exploit by playing a high line from time to time.

Kubo and Miyashiro ensured their tireless efforts saw Japan finish the 90 minutes in the ascendancy and Kubo's best effort, following a delicious side-of-the-heel release by Fukuoka, was well saved by Anderson.

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"We're now in Goa and that's part of the experience as well, moving from one part of India to another, set the camp up and get ready for another game".

"But we look forward, not back, and I've said on many occasions that it isn't about one player and if any of the boys left through any reasons such as injuries or club commitments, we will always be about the team and the squad".

Japan had only one substitution with their leading scorer Keito Nakamura being replaced by Naoki Tsubaki in the 54th minute.

England could not find an opener before the break despite further chances for Brewster and Philip Foden.

England had lost to Spain in the Euro U17 final in a penalty shootout earlier this year, but they showed tremendous composure on the night as substitute Nya Kirby scored the winning penalty after Curtis Anderson had denied Hinata Kida. It was high-risk stuff, and left the England midfield vulnerable to quick counters, which unfortunately for Japan translated to openings but not enough shots on target. "It worked out some of the time, and sometimes it didn't", said Moriyama. We had our gameplan knowing they were strong. "I really believed in my players and loved their body language in the shootout", he concluded.

Cooper admitted the game against Japan was very tough, adding he was happy the team did not leak goals and kept a clean sheet.

"There are several leaders on the pitch".

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