Goals from Daniel Akindayini and Nathan Oduwa saw our youngsters overturn a 1-0 half-time deficit in the competition opener – and Academy Manager John was all smiles after the game.
“I’d say that was probably one of the toughest games that they boys have ever been involved in,” he said. “We’re seven hours ahead of UK time so we’re still coming to terms slightly with the jet lag.
“Given the heat, the difference in time and the fact that we were playing against an under-19 national side – bearing in mind we’ve still got 16-year-olds playing in our team – the game was an incredible experience.”
We struggled to find a rhythm in the early stages, with the Japanese side taking the lead after eight minutes.
We started to take the initiative from the half-hour mark and it was no surprise when Akindayini levelled five minutes after half-time, latching onto Josh Onomah’s through ball and firing home with his left foot.
In an end-to-end game, Oduwa and Onomah were excellent on the counter attack, with the former putting us ahead with a fine solo goal in the 73rd minute.
Will Miller, Onomah and Emmanuel Sonupe all went close, while goalkeeper Luke McGee made a fine save to ensure we took maximum points.
“It was probably one of the proudest moments the boys have had so far in winning the game and we did well to combat the extreme high quality of the Japanese side,” John said afterwards.
“The Japanese threw caution to the wind in the last 15 minutes and I thought we defended with intelligence. Alex McQueen was extremely resilient at the back and Fillp Lesniak, who came on as a substitute, was a key lynchpin in breaking up their attacks.
“I’ve been at the club eight or nine years now and that was probably in the top three Academy performances that we’ve had in terms of quality and dealing with a very, very tough environment.
“It was a full house of 18,000 people and we had a fantastic reception from the crowd, who warmed to us and warmed to the way that we played. It was an unbelievable experience for the players.”
The lads face Italian outfit Roma on Wednesday in their second match of the tournament, before taking on the Vietnamese Under-19 national side on Friday.
Spurs: McGee, Walker-Peters, Ball (Amos 90), A McQueen, Ogilvie, Dombaxe (Lesniak 60), Onomah (Goddard 85), Winks, Oduwa, Miller (Sonupe 77), Akindayini (Harrison 81).