Andrew Cave-Brown's Scotland suffered a shock defeat in their FIFA Under-20 World Cup opener against Japan yesterday, a result which leaves them chasing their tail in the race to qualify for the next phase.
The City right-back completed the full 90 minutes in the Scots' 3-1 defeat but Japan's speed and skill on the ball was too much for the more physical Scottish outfit in the Group F clash in Victoria, Canada.
After an impressive run to the final in last summer's Under-19 European Championship, Tommy Wilson's boys were tipped as potential dark horses for the tournament and Cave-Brown himself admitted they had high hopes of at least a semi-final appearance.
But it will be a case of back to the drawing board after this poor first showing and nothing more than a win will do in their next encounter ? against Nigeria on Wednesday.
Yasuhito Morishima, Tsukasa Umesaki and Jun Aoyama scored for the Japanese, who outclassed their Scottish opponents from start to finish.
Morishima opened the scoring in front of a sell-out crowd of 11,400 at Victoria's Royal Athletic Park in the 43rd minute. Hibernian keeper Andrew McNeil came out to clear a long ball from Japanese defender Tomoaki Makino, but he could only clear the ball straight to Morishima.
The Japanese striker was quick to react and tapped it into an empty net and it wasn't long before they were to add to their tally.
By now Scotland's frustration was starting to show and Kilmarnock midfielder Jamie Adams was given a yellow card by Mexican referee German Arrendondo in the 53rd minute for a trip from behind.
Seconds later, Hearts' highly-rated young striker Calum Elliot ? who has been tipped for a move away from Tynecastle – ran over Atomu Tanaka and received Scotland's second caution.
But despite their physical presence the Japanese seemed unnerved and the contest was effectively over four minutes later when midfielder Tsukasa Umesaki rifled a stunning shot from 25 yards out. McNeil got a hand on it, but was unable to stop the ball from finding the corner of the net.
Morishima could have netted his second and Japan's third after a breakaway in the 75th minute, but McNeil came out to challenge and successfully cleared the ball.
However, the third was not long in coming and Jun Aoyama sealed their victory just four minutes later when he hit an ambitious strike from 35 yards out which was too much for McNeil to handle.
Scotland managed a consolation goal in the 82nd minute, when substitute Ross Campbell scored on a rebound from inside the penalty area thanks to some lazy Japanese defending.
Despite their disappointing start to Canada2007, Scots chief Wilson was in upbeat mood afterwards and is confident his side can still negotiate a passage through to the next round.
With the top two guaranteed to qualify, Scotland know that a win on Wednesday still gives them real hope and even a third place finish in the group could see them through.
“We knew Japan were a quality side, said Wilson.
“They looked fitter and have had more match practice.
“We were playing our first competitive game of the season and it showed but we can get better as the competition develops. That's what we did last summer and we can do so again.
“It wasn't anything to do with the tactics as we put out a team we believed could do the job. We'll get ready for the game against Nigeria and work on one or two things.
“We're a positive group who are close so there is no chance we'll be too hard on the boys.
“Hopefully, we'll benefit from the match and we'll be fitter for the next game, our fitness is good already ? but sharpness is a different matter. We know we can do better and we will bounce back.”
Scotland: McNeil (Hibernian), Cave-Brown (Norwich City), Wallace,(Heart of Midlothian), Adams (Kilmarnock), Cuthbert (c) (Celtic) (sub Snodgrass (Livingston) 77), Reynolds (Motherwell), Elliot (Heart of Midlothian), Fletcher (Hibernian), Dorrans (Livingston) (sub Gilmour (Clyde) 82), Conroy (Celtic), Lowing (Rangers) (sub Campbell (Hibernian) 46).
Leave a Reply