KOLKATA: Japan face a strong England side in the pre-quarterfinals of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 on Tuesday in Kolkata, but head coach Yoshiro Moriyama is unfazed by the pedigree of their opponents.
England are undoubtedly the team more likely to win. England showed their credentials when they played Chile in their opening match. The Three Lions thrashed the South Americans 4-0, giving a vital boost to their confidence.
In their second match, Mexico gave them some tough time but Steve Cooper’s side managed to prevail 3-2. England then outplayed the Asian Champions Iraq 4-0 in their last group game, moving into the top spot of Group F. With the likes of Angel Gomes, Callum Hudson Odoi and Rhian Brewster among the goals, England will look to out-class Japan.
Japan, on the other hand, struggled during the group stages as they won against Honduras, lost to France and drew against New Caledonia. Their performance in the group stages wasn’t good enough compared to their opponents England.
However, Moriyama is optimistic that the Samurai Blue’s campaign is far from over. “I have respect for England, but we want to do our work. The fact that England is a great team, does not intimidate us. Rather, it inspires respect and my players will be up to the task. At this stage, we have to fight to overcome any hurdles to go as far as possible,” he said.
“England are one of the best teams here. We believe it be an intense match with a lot of pressure. There are several things that we are working on and hopefully during the game it will work,” the 49-year-old added.
Meanwhile, Cooper has warned his side against complacency or looking beyond Japan to a possible quarterfinal against Paraguay or United States in Goa Saturday.
“Anyone who thinks that an easy opponent is waiting for us in the next round is making an enormous mistake. This is football and anything can happen,” said Cooper.