AFC Under 23 Cup - Round Up


Now that the end of the group games in the Under 23 Asian Cup have ended, let’s look at how the teams got on from East Asia in the group stage.

China

First off let's start with China, an after an impressive win in their opening game they fell to two defeats. This means the host our out of the competition already, proving yet more questions rather than answers of the state of their international game. 

China first fell to a 1-0 defeat to Uzbekistan in a game they dominated with 65% possession. However, they did not have enough in front of goal. Next up for them in their final group game where Qatar. The Qatar side is improving all the time and with the idea, these players will be at the 2024 World Cup they are hosting they will be desperate to do well. Despite China looking a stronger side and in their own country they lost in a narrow fashion going down 2-1 after being a goal up for almost the whole first half. The turning point was however when He Chao was sent off towards the end of the first half for China with the score at 1-0. From then on it was always going to be a tough ask to protect a narrow goal advantage for 45 minutes with ten men.

Despite losing out on progression out of their group, China’s coach Massimiliano Maddaloni did say "We think that all the players tried their best and that they tried to win the match,” He went on to then say, “From the beginning of this match until the 35th minute we played very well, and the players have put in a very good performance. I am very proud to be their coach.”

There’s clear signs improvement is needed for China but there are signs they are getting there. 

Japan

Japan's story so far has been better than China's as they finished the group with a 100% record. After there 1-0 win over Palestine they went to play an ever-improving Thailand side beating them also 1-0. This was another tough game for them and again this was a very well fought match in which Japan came away with a one-goal win after scoring in the 90th minute through Ko Itakura a player already making a huge impact in the J League with Kawasaki Frontale.

Last up for Japan where North Korea, the North Korean side knew they would have to win to progress. You could forgive Japan for slowing down having already qualified for the quarter-final. However, this was a very good performance for the young Japanese side as they run out 3-1 winners. 

Japan now after three wins and only one goal against them will look to continue to improve when they face Uzbekistan on Friday.

South Korea 

South Korea after a win in their first game took part in a game that would never be seen as a classic as they drew 0-0 with Syria. South Korea dominated the game, while Syria did not even manage a shot on goal.

After mix performances, last up for South Korea where Australia. Both teams had one win each so a win for either side would mean a place in the quarter-final.

This was much more exciting than the Syria game as South Korea run out 3-2 winners to top the group. It was not an easy game however as South Korea raced to a 2 goal lead at halftime. Australia then improved in the second half although South Korea made it 3-0 just after the hour mark, making the game look over. Although ten minutes later it was back on with Australia scoring two quick-fire goals, although they were unable to find a third as they exited the competition at the group stages.

Here’s a round up now of the quarter final fixtures coming up;

Japan v Uzbekistan

Qatar v Palestine

Iraq v Vietnam

South Korea v Malaysia   

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