Japan clawed back from an early deficit to claim a 2-1 win over South Africa in their opening match of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup group stage at Suwon World Cup Stadium.
Despite a lineup that included J.League regulars Ritsu Doan (Gamba Osaka), Koki Ogawa (Jubilo Iwata), and Yuta Nakayama (Kashiwa Reysol), Japan failed to keep up with the African side and surrendered the opening goal to Grant Margeman after just seven minutes.
Following the interval, it was Ogawa who needed just three minutes to pull Japan even when he headed in Yuto Iwasaki’s cross.
The tide shifted in Japan’s favour after Takefusa Kubo came on as a substitute shortly after the hour mark, and it was indeed the 15-year-old who set up Doan’s game-winner in the 72nd minute.
Japan will next face Uruguay on May 24 in Suwon.