AFC U19 Championship: 5 talking points from group stage

AFC U19 Championship

An eventful group stage of the AFC U19 Championship, which is being played in Indonesia, is done and dusted with. A tournament which started with 16 teams is now down to eight with the quarterfinals set to commence on 28th October after a day’s rest.

But before we get down with the knockout action, here are five major talking points from the group stage.

Ziyuvuddin Fuzaylov’s horrific leg break

An interesting Group D encounter between Malaysia and Tajikistan was overshadowed by a horrific leg break to Tajikistan’s Ziyuvuddin Fuzaylov. Malaysia’s Nabil Hakim Bokhari went in with a two-footed challenge against the substitute Fuzyalov and ended up landing on his leg, which resulted in a break.

The youngster was immediately stretchered off to the hospital and Nabil Hakim was given the marching orders. In a game that finished 2-2, both the sides had a man sent off as Tajik left-back Khuseyn Nurmatov was shown the red card minutes after this incident.

UAE captain refuses handshake with Qatar skipper

In the tournament opener which was played between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, political tension seemed to spill out as UAE captain Omar Ahmad refused to shake hands and be a part of the mandatory photograph with Qatar captain Nasser Abdulsalam.

The relationship between the two countries has been stained since UAE and other Gulf countries accused Qatar of supporting terrorism in 2017. The Emiratis ended up winning the match 2-1 in the end.

The national anthem goof up

South Korea

Before South Korea’s Group C encounter against Jordan, a major goof up during the national anthem embarrassed the organisers. In place of the South Korean anthem, the North Korean national anthem was played.

Though it was stopped seconds later and the correct anthem was played, the South Korean team registered their protest after the match. The AFC released a statement on the same as well.

“The incorrect anthem was stopped immediately and an investigation into the mistake has been held.

“The AFC apologises to the Korea Republic team and the Korea Football Association and the AFC will take the appropriate steps to ensure this error cannot be repeated,” the statement read.

The operator has been replaced as well.

South Korea hitting all three pieces of woodwork in 2 seconds

In South Korea’s last group stage match of the tournament which was played against Vietnam, the Reds hit all three pieces of the woodwork within a couple of seconds. Korea started the match strongly and in the eighth minute came excruciatingly close to breaking the deadlock.

Korean number 9 Oh Se-Hun’s shot hit the right post first and then went on to hit the left one. If that wasn’t enough, the ball rolled back into play and from about three yards, with an open goal in front of him, Yim Jae-Hyeok smacked the ball right onto the crossbar only for the ball to be ultimately cleared by a Vietnamese defender.

Korea ultimately went on to win the match 3-1 and qualified for the quarterfinals.

Indonesia and more importantly, the fans!

Indonesia have been the biggest story so far in the tournament. The host country have put in one gritty performance after another and have defied all odds to qualify for the knockouts.

After a 3-1 win over Chinese Taipei in their first match, they were 6-1 down against Qatar in their second group stage encounter in the second half. However, substitute Todd Rivaldo changed the complexion of the match single-handedly, hitting a 16-minute hat-trick to carry Indonesia to the brink of completing a comeback for the ages.

But it wasn’t to be as the match finished 6-5 in favour of Qatar. Then in the all-important match against the United Arab Emirates, where they needed a win to qualify for knockouts, Indonesia were pegged back early in the second half as captain Nurhidayat was sent off.

The home team, however, held off every Emirati advancement and came out victorious in the end, qualifying for the knockouts. The home fans have been the catalyst to this brilliant run and a similar support would be the need of the hour when Indonesia face Japan in the all-important quarters.