PFDC – DOHA, The 2016 AFC U-23 Championship continued today with two doubleheaders that saw entertaining football and some questionable officiating.
Group B – Grand Hamad Stadium, Doha
Japan v North Korea
The first half produced many chances as the Blue Samurai got on the scoreboard after only four minutes. Defender Naomichi Ueda was left unmarked on a corner kick and volleyed the ball home with ease. Ten minutes later, Kim Yong-il had the chance to equalize but his shot went straight at Japanese keeper Kushibiki. About a minute later, midfielder Yun Il-gwang had a long range effort that came dangerously close. Late in the first half Yuya Kubo almost doubled the lead for Japan but his shot inside the penalty area was nicely saved by North Korean keeper An Tae-song.
Japan continued to be the better side after the interval and Kubo nearly extended Japan’s lead again but this time he was denied by the goalpost in the 55th minute. North Korea’s best chance to equalize came on a free kick taken by midfielder So Kyong-gin but his attempt barely missed as the Japanese dodged a bullet to hold on to the 1-0 victory.
Saudi Arabia v Thailand
Early in the first half, the Saudis were awarded a penalty kick when Mohammad Al-Saiari when was brought down by Adison Promark but the replay showed that the foul was committed just outside the penalty area. Mustafa Al-Bassas was denied on a brilliant save by Thai keeper Somporn Yos when he dove to his left to get a hand on the shot that then deflected off the top of the crossbar.
Saudi Arabia finally broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when Al-Saiari headed in a cross from Fahad Al-Muwallad. The Saudis were extremely relieved but their lead only lasted twelve minutes after Pinyo took advantage of a blunder committed by the Saudi Arabian center backs. The Thai supporters were ecstatic as they saw their side earn a well-deserved 1-1 draw.
Group C – Suheim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Iraq v Yemen
The bulk of the action in this match took place in the last ten minutes of the first half. A penalty kick was awarded in the 35th minute when Ayman Hussein was fouled while trying to get his head on a cross. Defender Ali Faez placed the ball perfectly into the lower right corner to give Iraq a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later a left-footed strike from twenty yards out by Humam Tariq was parried nicely by Yememi keeper Salem Al-Harsh but the rebound was finished off nicely by Ali Husni to give Iraq a 2-0 lead going into the half.
Iraq were awarded a penalty kick again just after the hour when Humam Tariq was fouled by Ammar Hamsan. Humam took the penalty himself but was denied again by Al-Harsh as his shot was saved and deflected off the post. Humam wasn’t able to get on the score sheet today but a 2-0 win for Iraq puts them on top of the group.
South Korea v Uzbekistan
On a day filled with penalty kicks, the South Koreans were awarded a penalty in the 19th minute after an apparent handball by Uzbek midfielder Otabek Shukurov. However, the replay clearly showed that the ball went off of Shukurov’s chest, not his hand. Moon Chang-jin slotted home the penalty kick with ease as Abduljalilov dove the wrong way.
Three minutes after the start of the second half, a great run down the left flank and an excellent pass by Hwang Hee-chan into the penalty area was finished off brilliantly by Moon as he scored his second goal of the match to put the South Koreans up 2-0.
The White Wolves of Uzbekistan finally got on the scoreboard in the 57th minute when AFC Youth Player of the Year Dostonbek Khamdamov of Bunyodkor fired home a shot from twenty-five yards out to cut the lead in half. The Uzbeks did all they could to try and salvage a point but it wasn’t enough as they were reduced to ten men with nearly twenty minutes remaining when Jamshid Boltaboev was given a straight red card for a dangerous foul. The 2-1 victory for South Korea gives them three points as they sit in second place in the group behind leaders Iraq on goal difference.
Group B Schedule for January 16
Thailand v Japan
North Korea v Saudi Arabia
Group C Schedule for January 16
Yemen v South Korea
Uzbekistan v Iraq
Image courtesy of the-afc.com