March 10 – Japan qualified for the quarter finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan with a 2-1 win over reigning champions Saudi Arabia who finished third in Group D and out of the knockout rounds.
Two goals from Kuryu Matsuki helped Japan maintain their 100% record, the only country in the 16-team finals to do so.
Saudi Arabia needed a win to qualify but instead China, with a 1-1 draw with the Kyrgyz Republic at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent, took the spot in the next round.
Mirlan Bekberdinov’s own goal 13 minutes into the second half gave the Chinese the lead but Biimyrza Zhenishbekov’s late strike levelled the game and it took a series of saves from Li Hao to see the Chinese into the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time since 2014.
China meet Group C winner Korea Republic in quarter finals while Japan face Jordan, who sealed their place with a 0-0 draw against Oman, putting them just one win away from a first ever qualification for a FIFA World Cup finals.
The four semi-finalists qualify for the U20 World Cup in Indonesia later this year.
The quarter final line-up sees five former champions – China, Japan, Korea Republic, Iran and Iraq – together with Australia, Jordan and hosts Uzbekistan. Games kick off on Saturday with four-time champions Iran meeting Iraq, who have lifted the trophy five times. That will be followed by Uzbekistan playing Australia.
On Sunday 12-time winners Korea Republic facing China, whose only title was won in 1985. Japan face Jordan in the last of the quarter-finals.
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