Sunday , October 2 2022

Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia to clash in U23 Asian Cup final


Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia entered the final of the U23 Asian Cup after respectively beating Japan and Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday night.

Australia (in yellow) play Saudi Arabia in U23 Asian Cup semifinals on June 15, 2022. Photo by Reuters

Australia (in yellow) play Saudi Arabia in U23 Asian Cup semifinals on June 15, 2022. Photo by Reuters

Two-time runners-up Saudi Arabia, who eliminated Vietnam with a 2-0 victory in the quarterfinals on Sunday, had no trouble finding their way into the Australian net in Pakhtakor Stadium and won 2-0 through goals from Hussain Al-Eisa and Ayman Yahya.

Australia did not help themselves with a red card Jay Rich-Baghuelou got in the first half.

There was some late drama when Ramy Najjarine failed to convert a penalty to get Australia back in the game while Abdullah Radif also missed from the spot for the Saudis.

Saudi coach Saad Al Shehri said: “I’m very happy with this victory and for the players, who did well. I think we played against a good team but with our high pressing strategy, we caused problems for Australia. Now we’re in the final and will focus on winning that match.”

Uzbekistan players celebrate a goal in U23 Asian Cup semifinals against Japan on June 15, 2022. Photo by AFP

Uzbekistan players celebrate a goal in U23 Asian Cup semifinals against Japan on June 15, 2022. Photo by AFP

Saudi Arabia are unbeaten in this tournament and yet to concede a goal, and are aiming to win the title for the first time.

In the other match, Uzbekistan also put two past Japan to advance with goals by Jasurbek Jaloiddin and Husain Norchaev. After a tight first half, the hosts finally got the breakthrough in the second half.

Japan desperately tried to come back, but Uzbekistan’s defense kept their cool and neutralized all threats.

Uzbek coach Timur Kapadze said: “This victory is for the people of Uzbekistan. We desperately wanted to play in the final and we are so happy to have advanced. We were really well prepared for Japan. We knew their strengths. They are one of the strongest teams and we knew we had to play really well. We analyzed them and did not allow them to play their normal game.”

Uzbekistan’s next goal is to become the first team to win the title twice after winning it in 2018.

The final will be played at 8 p.m. Hanoi time on Sunday.

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