2020 AFC U23 Championship: Uzbekistan pip Iran to join Korea Republic in quarters

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Defending champions Uzbekistan have narrowly qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2020 AFC U23 Championship despite losing 2-1 to Korea Republic on Wednesday.

The Uzbeks entered the Group C clash at the Thammasat Stadium with their place in the knockout round still in doubt, and were coming up against a South Korean outfit who had won their opening two matches to be the first side to qualify for the quarters.

With just five minutes on the clock, Oh Se-hun fired Korea Republic ahead but Bobir Abdixolikov equalised for Uzbekistan in the 21st minute.

However, Oh struck again in the 71st minute to win it for his side, and the result left Uzbekistan on four points.

Still, it proved enough for them to finish second in Group C as they pipped Iran on goal difference by a single strike, after the Central Asian outfit came up just short despite beating already-eliminated China PR 1-0.

Following a goalless first half at the Tinsulanon Stadium, Omid Noorafkan converted from the spot with just three minutes remaining – following a foul on Mehdi Ghaedi inside the area – to at least ensure the Iranians would be heading home with a win to their names.