The strikers running out at the FIFA U-17 World Cup United Arab Emirates 2013 have been warned. If any of them are going to score a better goal than the one Japan’s Kosei Uryu conjured up against Russia on Friday, then they will need to make it a very special one indeed.
The diminutive midfielder floored the Russians with a knockout blow 15 minutes into their Group D game in Sharjah, striding forward to unleash a right-footed piledriver from over 25 yards out and give his side a precious 1-0 win.
Reliving his wonder strike in a conversation with FIFA.com, the hero of the hour said: “When I got on the ball I could see that the opposition players weren’t closing me down. I saw where the keeper was too and I just went with my instinct. To be honest, I can’t really explain what happened.”
It needed to be a special strike to find its way past Anton Mitryushkin, Russia’s stingy hero at the UEFA European U-17 Championship final against Italy, in which he saved three spot-kicks in the shootout that gave the eastern Europeans the title. The Russian custodian did all he could to keep Uryu’s missile strike out, stretching his 5’11 frame towards the top right-hand corner of his goal but failing by some distance to intercept the ball.
Let’s go all the way
Buoyed by his match-winning effort, Uryu was full of confidence when it came to discussing Japan’s two remaining group games against Venezuela and Tunisia: “We’ve studied both of them and we know what we need to do to beat them.”
Uryu, who did not feature in the Japan squad that finished runners-up at last year’s AFC U-16 Championship and who hopes Friday’s goal will not be his only one at UAE 2013, then added: “We want to reach the final of this World Cup, and I want to do my very best to make that dream a reality.”
That ambition is understandable when you consider that the Japanese reached the quarter-finals at Mexico 2011. In attempting to achieve such a lofty goal, they have left no stone unturned. Embarking on their preparations for the UAE many months ago, Japan selected their 21-man squad following a painstaking process that involved nearly 200 hopefuls being put through their paces until the cream of the crop rose to the top. The result of that intensive selection procedure is a superbly well-drilled side who outwitted the Russians with their tactical astuteness.
Uryu’s thunderbolt aside, the Asian outfit also impressed onlookers with their ability to retain possession and then win it back whenever they lost it, a task in which Uryu excelled, while also carrying out vital work in his side’s supply lines. “We base our game on that of Barça, and in a wider sense the Total Football played by the Netherlands in the 1970s,” he explained.
That legacy was also cited by Nigeria coach Manu Garba as an inspiration for his side in an interview with FIFA.com earlier this week (see link to the right), providing further proof that the young stars of today are wise beyond their years.