January 22 – Saudi Arabia have become the first Asian country to qualify for the Olympic football tournament, alongside hosts Japan, after defeating reigning champions Uzbekistan 1-0 in the semi-finals of the AFC U-23 Championship in Bangkok, Thailand.
Abdullah Al-Hamdan’s late strike was enough to overcome the defending champions. The Uzbeks had dominated the last-four encounter, but were not clinical in front of the goal mouth. That profligacy cost Uzbekistan dearly when Al-Hamdan scored with three minutes left and ensure progress to the final where they will meet either Australia or South Korea, who face off in the other semi-final later today.
Saudi Arabia have also qualified for the Olympic football tournament this summer in Tokyo. At the AFC U-23 Championship, three Olympic tickets are at stake, with the top three gaining entry to the tournament. In the bronze medal match, Uzbekistan will thus get another opportunity to realize their Olympic dream.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1708925132labto1708925132ofdlr1708925132owedi1708925132sni@o1708925132fni1708925132