Preview: Asian giants Japan will eye a positive start when they lock horns with Honduras in a Group E FIFA U-17 World Cup match at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Sunday.
Japan reached the quarter-finals in 1993, when they hosted the tournament as debutants.
In the 2011 edition, they topped a group which had world football heavyweights Argentina, France and Jamaica on their way to the quarter-finals.
All eyes will be on Takefusa Kubo who is dubbed as the Japanese Messi.
Kubo is the youngest player to score in the J-League and represented Japan at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in May this year.
Japan entered the tournament after playing quite a few friendlies and an intense preparatory phase.
They will gain from the fact that they have a very seasoned coach in Yoshiro Moriyama, a former Japan defender who has vast experience playing and coaching in the J-League.
The Asian nation secured a ticket to India by virtue of an impressive performance in the 2016 AFC Under-16 championship.
Another forward, Cerozo Osaka, also has the skills to make an impression.
Coming to Honduras, they have managed to regularly qualify for the tournament since 2007.
They bowed out of the first two editions but managed to reach the quarter-finals in 2013.
In the qualification race, Honduras finished second behind a dominant Costa Rica in the central American zone qualifiers to reach the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
Once at the finals, they were defeated by hosts Panama, but recovered by beating Curacao and Haiti to reach the classification round.
A hugely impressive 7-1 victory over Cuba, with Carlos Mejia and Patrick Palacios both grabbing hat tricks, teed up their progression to India, despite a 0-3 defeat to US.
Updated Date: Oct 08, 2017 22:17 PM