AFC U-23 Championship: Plucky Qatar edge past Uzbekistan

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Qatar were victorious in their opening game of the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship on Tuesday after beating Uzbekistan 1-0 in Group A at the Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre.

Almoez Ali was the hero for the Qataris as his close-range finish in the second half proved enough for the victory, even though it was the Uzbeks who were largely the more dominant of the two sides throughout the 90 minutes.

They enjoyed the lion’s share of possession from the opening whistle with playmaker Odiljon Xamrobekov dictating proceedings from deep, while Javokhir Sidikov and Zabikhillo Urinboev looked lively in attack.

However, it was Qatar who came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half; Salem Al-Hajri receiving possession 25 yards out and unleashing a sensational swerving effort that beat Dilshod Khamraev but not the crossbar.

Uzbekistan then had a chance in the 53rd minute when Urinboev got in ahead of opposition keeper Mohammed Al-Bakari to meet a freekick from the left, but was unable to get clean contact on his header to keep it down.

And, just two minutes later, the decisive moment of the game arrived when Hisham Ali danced his way free down the right before slipping a cross into the path of Almoez, who made no mistake in sweeping his shot into the bottom corner to win it for Qatar.

The result means Qatar are level on points with China at the top of Group A, while Uzbekistan are just above bottom side Oman.

QATAR: Mohammed Al-Bakari, Tameem Al-Muhaza, Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, Sultan Al-Brake, Salem Al-Hajri, Ahmed Moein, Hisham Ali (Meshaal Al-Shamari 85’), Abdullah Al-Ahrak (Khaled Mohammed 72’), Akram Afif, Almoez Ali.

UZBEKISTAN: Dilshod Khamraev, Khojiakbar Alijonov, Islomjon Kobilov, Rustamjon Ashurmatov, Akramjon Komilov (Doniyorjon Narzullaev 53’), Azizjon Ganiev (Andrey Sidorov 84’), Odiljon Xamrobekov, Jasurbek Yakhshiboev, Javokhir Sidikov, Dostonbek Khamdamov (Bobir Abdixolikov 76’), Zabikhillo Urinboev.