March 6 – Hosts Uzbekistan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan all took big steps towards to the quarter finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup this weekend as they topped their groups unbeaten after two rounds.
Vietnam continued their impressive progress towards establishing themselves as one Asia’s elite nations with a 2-1 win over Qatar in Group B. It was their second successive win at the Istiqlol Stadium having beaten Australia in the first round.
Vietnam have six points, ahead of Australia and Iran, who are three behind, while Qatar are still seeking their first points. Vietnam face Iran next to secure a group win that will likely see them paired with Iraq in the quarter finals. If they win that match they are guaranteed a slot at the U20 World Cup in Indonesia later this year.
Japan put on a late show to pick up their second win as Koichi Togashi’s side scored three times in the final 18 minutes to hand Kyrgyz Republic a 3-0 defeat at JAR Stadium.
A 72nd minute penalty from Kodai Sano was followed by Naoki Kumata’s third of the tournament three minutes later while Isa Sakamoto concluded the scoring five minutes from the end.
Japan face current champions Saudi Arabia in their final group game which will likely decide who heads the group and most likely meet Jordan in the next round.
South Korea top Jordan’s group and face Tajikistan in their final game while Jordan are up against Oman who have yet to gain a point or score a goal.
Uzbekistan just need to avoid defeat against Indonesia in their final group match to go through to the next round.
The Uzbeks, in front of a passionate home crowd, were reduced to 10 men in their hard-fought 1-0 victory over Iraq at Bunyodkor Stadium on Saturday.
The final group matches begin with Group A and B tomorrow (Tuesday) with Groups C and D on Wednesday. Quarter finals will be played March 11, semis on March 15 and the final on March 18.
The top four teams will qualify for the U20 World Cup 2023 to be played in Indonesia starting May 20.
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