Finals cast taking shape
Kuala Lumpur: Japan, Chinese Taipei, Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and Tajikistan booked their places in the 2019 AFC U20 Futsal Championship after winning their groups on Monday.
Group A: Japan 4-2 Hong Kong
Ulaanbaatar: Japan clinched top spot in Group A after defeating Hong Kong 4-2 at the Buyant Ukhaa Sport Palace, Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia on Monday.
Hiroto Otsuka opened the scoring in the seventh minute to put Japan in front and Yamada Jiei doubled their advantage at the stroke of half-time.
Hong Kong came back fighting in the second half. Chow Ka Lok Leo found the net in the 21st minute and it was all square six minutes later when Yuen Sai Kit scored to make it 2-2.
Suzuki Ryuji’s charges, who beat Macau 18-0 on Saturday, had other ideas and broke the deadlock through Otsuka in the 27th minute and Jiei picked up his second a minute before the final whistle to seal a 4-2 victory.
Hong Kong finished second in the standings ahead of bottom-placed Macau.
Group B: Mongolia 4-1 China PR
Ulaanbaatar: Mongolia ended their qualifying campaign on a high note after cruising past China PR 4-1 at the Buyant Ukhaa Sport Palace, Ulaanbaatar.
China PR, who were searching for their first win in qualifying, took the lead through Liu Changsheng’s strike in the seventh minute.
Mongolia finally got their game together and equalised in the 17th minute through Ankhbayar Tumurbaatar before racing to a 3-1 advantage with goals from Erdenebat Bat-orgil in the 29th and Bilegjargal Purevkhuu’s strike at the half hour mark.
Mongolia contained their opponents in the second half and added their fourth in the 40th minute through Bat-orgil for a 4-1 victory.
Despite their impressive victory against Li Jianlei’s charges, it was not enough for Mongolia though as they finished second in the standings ahead of China PR.
Chinese Taipei, who topped the group on Sunday, have confirmed their spot in next year’s Finals. following their 7-3 win over China PR 7-3 on Sunday.
Group A: Islamic Republic of Iran 4-2 Afghanistan
Tashkent: Islamic Republic of Iran pipped Afghanistan to the top spot following their 4-2 win at the Uzbekistan Stadium.
Both teams came into the deciding match with three points each - with Iran beating Turkmenistan 6-3, while Afghanistan cruised to a 5-0 victory.
Hamid Reza Hossaini put Afghanistan in front in the seventh minute but Iran equalised seconds later through Seyed Behdad Ahmadi.
Salar Aghapour broke the deadlock in the 14th minute and Behdad Ahmadi made it 3-1 a minute later.
In the second half, Afghanistan fought back and made it 3-2 in the 26th minute after Seyed Hossein Mousavi found the net. But an own goal by goalkeeper Mohammad Javad Safari gave Iran a 4-2 advantage as they held on to win the tie.
Afghanistan finished second and still earn their place in the 2019 AFC U20 Futsal Championship, due to hosts Iran's participation in the Qualifiers and finishing as top of the group.
Afghanistan will go on to a play-off match with Tajikistan tomorrow.
Group B: Uzbekistan 2-7 Tajikistan
Tashkent: Tajikistan kept their hopes of qualifying alive after defeating Uzbekistan 7-2 to finish second in Group B at the Uzbekistan Stadium.
Uzbekistan, who lost 6-3 to group winners Kyrgyz Republic on Saturday, took the lead after two minutes through Mukhammad Zoirov.
But their celebrations were short-lived after Tajikistan’s Muhamamd Rajabov earned a first half hat-trick for a 3-1 lead at half-time.
Uzbekistan hit the ground running after the restart and pulled one back in the first minute to trail 3-2.
However, Tajikistan maintained their composure and furthered their advantage with goals from Faridun Nematov (37th), Khalid Saburov (39th) and Idris Yorov (35th, 40th) to win 7-3.
Since Iran booked top spot in Group A, Tajikistan will play in the Central Zone play-off against Afghanistan, but would still have their place in the Finals secured.