Kuala Lumpur: The cast for the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022 was finalised on Tuesday with the conclusion of Groups D and I.
Vietnam emerged Group I winners after a 1-0 win over Myanmar while Saudi Arabia advanced as the second of the best four runners-up following their 3-0 victory over Bangladesh in Group D.
Thailand (Group J) advanced as the best of the runners-up with Turkmenistan (Group F) third. Tajikistan took the fourth spot by the narrowest of margins, edging Bahrain on yellow cards.
Teams that had already booked their spot in the 16-team Finals as group winners were Qatar (Group A), Islamic Republic of Iran (Group B), Iraq (Group C), Kuwait (Group D), United Arab Emirates (Group E), Jordan (Group F), Australia (Group G), defending champions Korea Republic (Group H), Malaysia (Group J) and Japan (Group K) along with hosts Uzbekistan.
Kuala Lumpur: The stage is set for the 2021 AFC Cup Final between Bahrain’s Al Muharraq and FC Nasaf of Uzbekistan on Friday.
The two former winners will square off at Sheikh Ali Bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Stadium, with Al Muharraq looking to add to the title they won in 2008 and Nasaf aiming to win the AFC Cup a decade after being crowned 2011 champions.
“The biggest moment of my career" - Bošković reflects on Nasaf’s 2011 AFC Cup triumph
Karshi: Ten years after FC Nasaf became the first and only club from Uzbekistan to lift a major continental trophy, and with the club one match away from regaining the AFC Cup title they won in 2011, a star of that decade-old triumph will be among those cheering them on.
At virtually every step of Nasaf’s path to the 2021 AFC Cup Final, there have been references to an achievement from a decade prior.
Full of promising young players still in the early years of what look increasingly likely to be long and fruitful careers, Ruzikil Berdiev’s side have powered their way to Friday’s decider against Bahrain’s Muharraq Club, and it's one they fully expect to win.
Kuala Lumpur: Friday’s 2021 AFC Cup final marks the third time Bahraini powerhouse Muharraq Club feature in the competition’s finale, having last contested it 13 years ago when they defeated Lebanon’s Al Safa to lift a historic title.
Fresh off the disappointment of 2007 AFC Cup group stage exit, Muharraq went into the 2008 edition determined to repeat the heroics that saw them go all the way to the final on their debut in the competition in 2006.
In that exciting, yet ultimately unsuccessful campaign, Muharraq lost to defending champions Al Faisaly 3-0 in the first leg of the final, but attempted a valiant comeback at home in the second leg that was thwarted in the 91st minute by Siraj Al Tall’s goal for the Jordanian side.