Tashkent: Japan were the only side to conclude their AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 group stage campaign with a perfect record of three wins with Kuryu Matsuki playing a prominent role.
Matsuki, who had been critical of his performance in the earlier Group D matches against China PR and Kyrgyz Republic, was at his best against defending champions Saudi Arabia as his brace secured a 2-1 win on Thursday and a quarter-final against Jordan on Sunday.
Tashkent: Eight teams remain in the hunt for the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 title after the group stage came to a close on Thursday on the back of nine high-octane days of drama.
A total of 55 goals rained in over the 24 matches in Tashkent and Fergana with a number of fantastic efforts catching the eye. The-AFC.com has picked eight of the best and asks you, the fans, to tell us which is your favourite by voting below.
Togashi praises Japan players' self-motivation after beating Saudi Arabia
Tashkent: Japan head coach Koichi Togashi believes his players' self-motivation was crucial to their 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia which helped them seal the top spot in Group D of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 on Thursday.
With six points to their name already, the Samurai Blue looked to avoid complacency as they took on the defending champions in the last game, and a double from Kuryu Matsuki either side of a Yazeed Jawshan header for Saudi Arabia was enough to get them the victory.
Japan take on Jordan next for a place in the FIFA U20 World Cup Indonesia 2023, while Saudi Arabia finished third and are eliminated.
Tashkent: Iraq head coach Emad Mohammed and his Iranian counterpart Abdolsamad Marfavi spoke of mutual respect for the footballing traditions of each other’s nations, ahead of the two teams’ encounter in the quarter-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 at JAR Stadium on Saturday.
The two West Asian neighbours had faced in the semi-finals of the 2000 edition in Tehran with current Iraq boss Mohammed converting from the spot in a 7-6 win for the Lions of Mesopotamia after the game ended goalless. Mohammed then went on to score a brace in the final against Japan to guide his nation to the title.
The former forward, capped 103 times for his team, also spent six years of his career in the Iranian Pro League, helping Sepahan reach the 2007 AFC Champions League final. These experiences gave Mohammed a certain respect to his Saturday opponents.
Tashkent: Uzbekistan head coach Ravshan Khaydarov will not allow the quality of his side’s Australian opponents to influence his tactical decisions as he prepares for Saturday’s AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 quarter-final against the Young Socceroos at Bunyodkor Stadium.
The Australians were ruthless in advancing to the last eight, defeating Qatar 9-1 in their final Group B game to take the runners-up spot behind Islamic Republic of Iran while Uzbekistan finished on top of Group A, concluding their opening round commitments with a 0-0 draw against Indonesia.
Those results have set the pair up to go head-to-head, with not only a place in the semi-finals at stake but also one of Asia’s four berths at the FIFA U20 World Cup Indonesia 2023 in May and June on the line.
Kor relishing Iraq test, Qasim hopes to lead by example
Tashkent: Islamic Republic of Iran defender Milad Kor is relishing the opportunity to face neighbours Iraq in what he described as a special match in the quarter-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023.
The two regional rivals have had plenty of memorable clashes over the years at various age groups as well as at club level, adding to the intensity of Saturday’s game at JAR Stadium which will see the winners book their place at the FIFA U20 World Cup Indonesia 2023 as well as advance to the semi-finals.
IR Iran have appeared at the global event three times, most recently in Korea Republic in 2017 and with the reward at stake, Kor believes his side have one thing on their mind come kick-off time.
Rawlins eager to face Bunyodkor challenge, Rahmonaliyev vows to deliver for fans
Tashkent: Australia captain Joshua Rawlins is relishing the prospect of leading his team out at a fired up Bunyodkor Stadium with a place at the FIFA U20 World Cup on the line when the Young Socceroos take on Uzbekistan in Saturday’s quarter-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023.
The Australians have not qualified for the FIFA U20 World Cup since 2013 and, with a semi-final berth in Uzbekistan securing a ticket for Indonesia in May and June, FC Utrecht defender Rawlins is looking forward to ending his nation’s absence from the global stage with victory over the hosts.
Tashkent: China PR coach Antonio Puche was euphoric as his side booked a place in the quarter-finals of the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 as a 1-1 draw with Kyrgyz Republic on Thursday sealed the nation a spot in the knockout rounds for the first time in almost a decade.
The Chinese will meet East Asian rivals Korea Republic on Sunday at JAR Stadium with a place at the FIFA U20 World Cup Finals in Indonesia in May and June at stake, and the Spaniard could not have been more delighted.
Teamwork has been the key to Korea Republic's success, says Joon-hong
Tashkent: The goalless draw against Tajikistan at the Bunyodkor Stadium on Wednesday marked the third successive match where goalkeeper Kim Joon-hong stood tall as Korea Republic advanced to the AFC U20 Asian Cup™ Uzbekistan 2023 quarter-finals without conceding a goal.
The final Group C match saw head coach Kim Eun-jung make significant changes to the line-up with no significant impact on the defence, leading Joon-hong to highlight Korea Republic’s awesome depth.