The AFC U-23 Championship Group Stage concluded today with South Korea facing Australia and Syria playing Vietnam in Group D to determine the final two qualifiers for the quarter-final stage of the competition, which will kick off on January the 19th.
South Korea beat Australia 3-2 to secure top spot of their group and were followed by Vietnam who managed a 0-0 draw with Syria; enough for the Golden Dragons to finish in 2nd place with 4 points as they pipped Australia in 3rd place by a point.
Group A saw hosts China eliminated with only 1 win in 3 games, which came in the first matchweek against Oman in front of a crowd of 11,800. This, however, did not propel them to a top two finish, when they lost to eventual qualifiers Uzbekistan 1-0 and Qatar 2-1 respectively. Qatar’s Almoez Ali starred for them, scoring in the 1-0 win against Uzbekistan and a brace against hosts China.
Japan topped Group B with a 100% record, followed by Palestine in 2nd place with 4 points, overcoming North Korea (4 points) on goal difference. As North Korea beat Thailand 1-0 in the first matchweek and drew with Palestine 1-1 in the second matchweek, it all went down on the final matchweek. Palestine thrashed Thailand 5-1, coupled with a 3-1 defeat of North Korea against Japan (compared to Palestine’s 1-0 loss in the first matchweek) helped Palestine qualify with a goal difference of +3.
Finally, in Group C came three Arabian teams in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq. However, only one of the qualified for the next round – Iraq – who defeated Malaysia 4-1 and Jordan 1-0 alongside a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia to top the group with 7 points. Following them was Malaysia, who after losing to Iraq in the first matchweek, drew with Jordan in the next matchweek and shockingly beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 on the final day.
The quarter-final match-ups:
|Qatar vs. Palestine||19-1-2018 | 19:30 (China Time)||Changzou Olympic Sports Centre|
|Japan vs. Uzbekistan||19-1-2018 | 16:00||Jiangyin Stadium|
|Iraq vs. Vietnam||20-1-2018 | 19:30||Changshu Stadium|
|South Korea vs. Malaysia||20-1-2018 | 16:00||Kunshan Stadium|