Japan’s U-17 Women’s team defeated Spain in the finals to clinch its first ever World Cup crown. Little Nadeshiko remained unbeaten and conceded only a single goal until the finals as it soared past La Rojitas with a 2-0 victory in Costa Rica’s Estado Nacional de Costa Rica last Saturday.
Japan took the lead early in the first five minutes of the match. Spanish goalkeeper Elena De Toro blocked Shiho Matsubara’s attempt into the crossbar, which came to a waiting Meika Nishida, who took the rebound and fired a goal into the net. The Spanish side tried to equalize but was kept wanting by Japan’s offensive stance, making them unable to capitalize on counterattacks. A goal on the 78th minute came from substitute Fuka Kono, sealing Japan’s lead and crushing Spain’s hope of making a comeback. Rikako Kobayashi’s short pass to Kono left the defense wide open, allowing the Japanese to net an easy one.
AFC President Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Kharifa lauded the team’s victory as it demonstrated Asia’s prowess and rising dominance in football. Japan came close to winning the U-17 World Cup in 2010, but lost to rival South Korea in the finals. Hina Sugita, Japan’s captain, was awarded the Golden Ball for being the tournament’s most valuable player, while goalkeeper Mamiko Matsumoto took home the Golden Glove Award. The champions were also honored with the Fair Play Award for the tournament. Japan’s senior women’s team is the reigning World Cup Champions.
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