Asian Games: Traditional powers through to semi-finals
Four of Asian football’s heavyweight nations have qualified for the semi-finals of the Asian Games football tournament, currently taking place in the Chinese city of Ghangzhou.
Uzbekistan, fresh from knocking defending champions Qatar out of the competition in a game featuring “that miss” from Fahad Khalfan, were once again taken into extra-time. This time they faced a South Korea team who were taken all the way but ultimately proved that their team was stronger and took advantage of the obvious tiredness that had beset the Uzbeks following two difficult encounters. Hong Jeong-Ho’s third minute opening goal for the Koreans was cancelled out in the 72nd minute by Sherzod Karimov and with no further scoring in regular time had to go to an extra thirty minutes. South Korea put the tie beyond doubt with two goals early in each half of added time with Park Chu-Young and Kim Bo-Kyung sealing the win. They will face the United Arab Emirates in the semi-finals after the Middle Eastern team had to go through the lottery of a penalty shoot-out following a goalless 120 minutes against North Korea. With both teams scoring each of their five penalties the shoot-out went into sudden death and each team traded three further successful spot kicks before North Korea’s Ri Chol-Myung missed their ninth kick, therefore allowing Mohamed Al-Shehhi to score the winning penalty and take the UAE through to the next round.
The other two semi-finalists also qualified having overcome difficult quarter-final matches. Japan, seen by many as the favourites to win the tournament, had Keigo Hagashi to thank as his goal on the edge of half-time against Thailand proved to be the difference between the two sides. The Japanese will face off against Iran in the last four as they also won by a 1-0 scoreline against Oman with Hamidreza Ali Asgari’s 42nd minute goal proving crucial. The two semi-final matches will be played on Tuesday, November 23rd with the final taking place just two days later. Keep in touch with Stoppage Time – International Football Blog for all of the action.