Uzbeks and Iraqis make history as AFC U20 Asian Cup reaches semi-final stage

March 13 – Iraq, Japan, South Korea and Uzbekistan sealed their places at the U20 World Cup in Indonesia later this year, all coming through a dramatic set of quarter finals at the AFC U20 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan on Sunday.

It was non-stop tension across the board in the quarter finals with Uzbekistan needing a penalty shoot-out and South Korea needing extra time to win their ties. Iraq secured their progression with a goal in added time.

Korea Republic came from a goal down to hand China a 3-1 extra-time defeat at JAR Stadium. Sung Jin-young scored in the 100th minute after Kim Yong-hak’s 62nd minute penalty had cancelled out Mutalifu Yimingkari’s opener for the Chinese, while Choi Seok-hyun put the result beyond any doubt seconds before the interval in the first period of extra-time.

The Koreans will take on hosts Uzbekistan in the last four on Wednesday and victory in the semi-finals would keep them on course for a record-extending 13th Asian title.

Uzbekistan head coach Ravshan Khaydarov said his side’s qualification for the FIFA U20 World Cup Indonesia 2023 as a “dream come true” after handing Australia a penalty shootout defeat at Bunyodkor on Saturday. It is the first time Uzbekistan has qualified for an U20 World Cup and they did so in front of a passionate home crowd of 33,494 to advance to the semi-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup.

With the match ending 1-1 and penalties level at 4-4, Adrian Segicic’s miss in the final round allowed Uzbekistan captain Umarali Rakhmonaliev to hit the winner and earn Uzbekistan a 5-4 victory.

Like Uzbekistan, Iraq (pictured) also secured a spot at the U20 World Cup finals for the first time, beating arch rivals Iran.

With the game looking to be headed for extra time at JAR Stadium, Iraq winger Ali Jasim

received the ball 30 yards from goal and dribbled his way into the Iranian 18-yard-box before firing into the bottom corner to make history for his country.

Japan completed the semi-final line-up and will meet Iraq. The Japanese are the only team in the competition to maintain a 100% record. They faced one of the surprise teams of the tournament, Jordan in their quarter-final clash at Lokomotiv Stadium on Sunday.

The Jordanians held the Japanese at 0-0 at half time but second half goals from Isa Sakamoto and Naoki Kumata emphasised the strength and confidence of this Japanese team.

The semi-finals will be played Wednesday March 15 with the final on March 18.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1708470423labto1708470423ofdlr1708470423owedi1708470423sni@n1708470423osloh1708470423cin.l1708470423uap1708470423

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