Group E hosted some big names such as Asian Giants Japan, Honduras and New Caledonia along with the European giants France. The goal scoring spree of the season started with the teams from this group as France and Japan scored more than 5 goals against their opponents New Caledonia and Honduras respectively on the opening day for the group.
Honduras having failed to register a win in the previous tournament would have definitely kept their eyes on this one with New Caledonia making their debut in a FIFA tournament. Coming through a tough road on their way to the tournament, New Caledonia had to fight for their place with the likes of France, Japan and Honduras which obviously made life tough for the debutants.
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Winners of the group | France:
The opening game of the tournament showed signs of how France would go on to performance in this tournament. Scoring 7 goals in their first game against New Caledonia, France recorded the most number of goals scored for a single game in the 2017 edition. Going full guns blazing, France were led in attack by Amine Gouiri who scored five goals in three games topping the group stages.
In the process of moving to the Round of 16, France maintained a 100% record by winning a tight game against Japan and a splendid performance against Honduras. However scoring as much as 14 goals in the first three games of the campaign, France’s weak link lie in their defence as they have failed to keep a clean sheet in these three games. Conceding one goal in every game is definitely thing to be noted down by their coach Lionel Rouxel.
Other teams to qualify – Japan and Honduras
Having handed over a 6-1 thrashing by Japan, Honduras had to come up with something big in their second game which was against the debutants New Caledonia. A 5-0 win set the tone for them to kick start their run in campaign. Though Honduras badly lost their final game against the Group leaders, three points was enough for them as they qualified to the Round of 16.
Japan, on the other hand, after a massive start to the campaign lost their second match to France. Courtesy of their 1-1 draw in the final game against the debutants, Japan qualified as the second best team from the group.
Key matches/crucial encounters:
France 2-1 Japan
Arguably one of the hardly fought games in the group, the game eventually decided the winner of the group. With France taking the lead early, they doubled it up through their lead scorer Gouiri just before Japan pulled one back through Miyashiro from the spot.
Honduras 5-0 New Caledonia
After France’s thumping win against Honduras in the opening game, Honduras had to come up with an answer and boy didn’t they play well in their second game. A 5-0 rout against New Caledonia made sure that Honduras were able to make to the last 16 with three points given that they end up in the qualifying positions form the group. At the end of the group stages, it was evident that Honduras made through as the second best teams in the teams that had finished third from their group.
Japan 1-1 New Caledonia
The final game of the group was definitely the best of the lot as it was the tightly fought contest of the group as New Caledonia’s manager stated, “We played like warriors” after the end of the game. Japan took the lead early in the game through their top scorer Nakamura who completed the round with four goals. New Caledonia responded with a leveller in the dying minutes of the game and gave their first point of a FIFA Tournament.