AFC Under 23 Semi Final Preview


The Under 23 Asian Cup semi-finals take place today and we will find out who the best young team in Asia is. We’ve already had the amazing story come out from the rise of Vietnam. 

Back to the other side of Asia, over in East Asia, it’s been a mixed competition for the East Asian sides. With China missing out on getting out of their group after a winning start it was a better story for Japan who got to the quarter-final, however, could not progress further. While our remaining side South Korea remains still very much in the running to win the competition.

Talk of the future of the game in China will be discussed further am sure in future but let’s now have a look at Japan and South Korea. 

Japan had a quarter-final tie against an ever more impressive Uzbekistan side. Despite the Uzbek side only narrowly beating China they still did look a side capable of causing Japan problems. This proved to be very much the case as Japan crashed out to a 4-0 defeat.  

After keeping Uzbekistan out for the first 30 minutes, the Japan defence crumpled as they conceded 3 in the last 15 minutes of the first-half. With the game all but over early in the second half with another goal to make it 4-0 Japan had no answers.  

The first goal for Uzbekistan came from a well-worked finish from Sidikov. The second came from some terrible defending as Japan did not seem to know what to do with it. Leading to Khamdamov stealing the ball off the Japan defender Tatsuta. Khamdamov then had the easy task of scoring from 6 yards out. The third came after a lovely crossfield pass from Ganiev to Yakhshibaev who twisted and turned in the box till he eventually got his shot away pass the helpless Japanese defence. The fourth and final goal came from yet more poor defending as a ball played forward found Yakhshibaev who was able to score from close range. 

Japan will look to bounce back from this and am sure they will as this looked like it was just a bad day at the office. The Japan skipper Yuta Kamiya said after the game “I don’t want to lose again, so I will take all this as experience and lessons for my next outing,” showing a clear desire to bounce back. 

Moving away from Japan some better news for football in East Asia as South Korea faced Malaysia in the quarter-final winning 2-1 setting up a semi-final with Uzbekistan and am sure they will look to better Japan in this game.  

The game for South Korea was not an easy one despite Cho Jae-Wan making it 1-0 in the first minute. Malaysia fought back to make it 1-1 and it took until the 85th minute for South Korea to find the winner through Han Sung-Gyu. 

South Korea first goal came from Jae-Wan and it was a wonderful strike from a tight angle that went in off the inside of the post. The second came from a slice of luck and some lovely quick one-touch passing leading to Seung-Gyu rounding the keeper and slotting the ball into an empty net. 

South Korea will be in good spirits going into their game against Uzbekistan but so will the Uzbek side as they have already beaten the hosts China and the holders Japan. Despite this South Korea are confident with the Korean player Han Seung-gyu saying “In the game against Malaysia I wasn’t satisfied with my performance, but in the game tomorrow I’ll be doing my best to score and to play my best so that we can reach the final and go on and win the title,”.

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