Japan fall short against Colombia, but knockouts still within reach at U-20 World Cup

Japan fall short against Colombia, but knockouts still within reach at U-20 World Cup

Japan built upon their win in the opening match of the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a strong showing against Colombia, but fortune was not on their side as they lost, 2-1. Still, the Young Samurai Blue are in excellent position to advance to the knockout stages.

Japan went in front on the half-hour mark through Yokohama F·Marinos youngster Riku Yamane. Taichi Fukui, a product of Sagan Tosu now with Bayern Munich, orchestrated a gorgeous corner kick play with Cerezo Osaka’s Sota Kitano, eventually feeding Yamane to score the game’s opening goal.

Two excellent moves by Colombia ended with the ball in the back of the net, putting Japan behind, but they did not falter. They continued to push with inventive play and showed their quality, putting a good Colombia side on the back foot and just barely missing on a couple outstanding chances to bring the match level.

Late on, it looked like the Young Samurai Blue would equalize when they were awarded a penalty, but F.C.Tokyo’s Kuryu Matsuki blasted the spot kick off the crossbar and Japan would have to take the loss.

Japan did not leave with simply the knowledge they played well, though. They are still second place in Group C on three points and a win over Israel on the final day of the group stage will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages. Even a draw would put them in terrific position to advance, so the Young Samurai Blue still have it all to play for at the U-20 World Cup.