India hold Uzbekistan to 1-1 draw to qualify for 2020 AFC U16 Championship; Iran, UAE & Qatar among qualified sides


India qualified for next year’s 2020 AFC U16 Championship after holding hosts Uzbekistan to a 1-1 draw in their final group match of the qualification event at the JAR Stadium in Tashkent. 

This will be the Indian youngsters’ third successive appearance in the AFC U16 Championship following their qualification as hosts in 2016 and as group runners-up to the 2018 continental competition held in Malaysia.

But this time, India’s qualification came by the virtue of winning Group B of the 2020 AFC U16 Championship Qualifiers after collecting seven points from three matches including two wins and a draw.

Uzbekistan, who also finished with 10 points but were pushed back to second due to India’s superior goal difference, also progressed as one of the four best runners-up from the 11 groups of the qualifiers along with Yemen, Indonesia and Oman.

Position of second-placed teams from each of the 11 groups. Top best runners-up made it to the 2020 AFC U16 Championship.

Bahrain, who lost to Turkmenistan 3-2 to end their campaign bottom of Group B without a point, will also be part of the AFC U16 Championship to be held from September 16 to October 3 next year as the tournament hosts.

Group A saw Tajikistan making it four wins out of four matches in the qualifiers after a 5-2 win over hosts Jordan at the Prince Mohammed Stadium in Zarqa, despite finishing second with seven points in the five-team group, failed to qualify for the finals after their win over bottom finishers Sri Lanka were not considered in the race for qualification via finishing as the runners-up.

This is due to groups A, G and H having five teams while the rest of the eight groups only had four teams competing against each other.

Nepal bowed out of the qualifiers with a 3-0 win over Sri Lanka in the other match in the group.

In Group C, IR Iran secured qualification with ease after defeating Afghanistan 4-0 in their final group match at the Shahid Hajibabaei Stadium in Hamedan. Palestine, who defeated Maldives 4-1, finished level on points with Afghanistan with four.

Group D saw hosts Saudi Arabia and hosts Oman, with six points apiece, battling each other for the top honours on the final matchday at the Prince Saud bin Jalawi Stadium in Khobar.

It was the Saudis who progressed after a goalless draw, but Oman had the good fortune of qualifying as one of the best runners-up after collecting seven points from three matches. Syria had held to a 1-1 draw by Pakistan in a dead-rubber in the same group earlier in the day.

After a 1-1 draw in the penultimate matchday, Qatar and Yemen went into the final matchday in Group E with six points apiece. Qatar defeated Bhutan 11-0  to leapfrog Yemen, who had overcome Bangladesh 3-0, on goal difference (+13 compared to Yemen’s +12) and progress as group winners.

But Yemen, just like Oman in Group D, progressed as one of the runners-up with seven points.

Group F saw United Arab Emirates (UAE) qualify as winners after maintaining a perfect record in the pool — their third win coming against Lebanon 4-1 at the Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek. Meanwhile, Iraq bowed out despite recording a 3-0 win over Kyrgyz Republic.

Here’s a look at which ASEAN sides made it to the 2020 AFC U16 Championship.

(Photo courtesy: Indian Football Team)