Grazie ad un gol su calcio d’angolo del neoentrato (da pochi secondi) Akram Afif il Qatar vince l’AFC U19 Championship.
Per la Corea una gara autoritaria, gestita senza particolari problemi, con la sola grande pecca di non aver finalizzato le molte occasioni create, con in particolare il palo di Jo Kwang-Myong nel primo tempo attorno al ventesimo minuto.
Super sub Akram Afif scored within seconds of coming on as Qatar claimed their maiden AFC U-19 Championship title after a 1-0 victory over DPR Korea in Thursday’s final at Thuwunna Youth Training Centre Stadium.
Yangon: Super sub Akram Afif scored within seconds of coming on as Qatar claimed their maiden AFC U-19 Championship title after a 1-0 victory over DPR Korea in Thursday’s final at Thuwunna Youth Training Centre Stadium.
Following an action-filled but goalless first half, Afif, who has started from the bench in every game he has played, was on target for the fourth time to give Qatar the lead on 50 minutes and ultimately end Korean hopes of a fourth title, despite championship glory in two of the four previous tournaments.
For the West Asians, the result caps off an undefeated campaign in Myanmar with the historic victory resulting in their first AFC championship title since they lifted the AFC U-16 Championship trophy in 1990.
Left winger Saltan Al Brake had got the action underway with the game’s first chance within the opening 10 minutes as his darting run up the flank saw his low ball across the six-yard area stabbed back towards his own goal by covering defender Min Hyo-song, who was relieved to see his goalkeeper Cha Jong-hun dive low to cut out the danger.
The Koreans were quick to respond with an opening of their own as Jin Il-sok evaded two challenges on the right to dance into the area and his low shot was almost turned in by the out-stretched leg of Jo Sol-song, but Qatar custodian Yousof Hassan pulled off an athletic stop with his feet.
Ahmed Al Sadi, the tournament’s joint-leading scorer with five goals, then had a golden chance to put his side in front on 20 minutes as Almoez Ali’s flicked header at the near post found the forward lurking by the opposite upright, his close-range shot, though, was turned behind by a sprawling Cha.
DPR Korea’s main attacking threat, Jo Kwang-myong, had an even better chance six minutes later as Hassan could only parry out a fierce header from a Kang Nam-gwon corner and Jo pounced upon the loose ball, only to see his prodded effort deflected onto the post and aside.
An Ye-gun’s red-clad charges were beginning to take control of the first period and just after the half-hour mark Ri Un-chol sent Kim Yu-song through on goal with a delicate chipped through ball that the striker adeptly controlled. Hassan, though, did just as expertly with his leaping block that turned Kim’s shot over the crossbar.
With all the goalmouth action it was with some surprise that the tie was goalless at half-time but after just five minutes of play re-starting Qatar took the lead following an inspired substitution by their coach, Felix Sanchez Bas.
After the West Asians won a corner on the 50th minute, Afif immediately took to the field and from Abdullah Al Ahrak’s resulting in-swinger the substitute rose highest to slam home a bullet header within seconds of entering the fray.
An threw on his own bench-based goal-scorer in So Jong-hyok, who had scored after coming on against Uzbekistan in the semi-final, and DPR Korea did almost find a way back into the tie on 69 minutes as a Kang free-kick whipped into the box caused consternation amongst the Arab Gulf side with the ball pinging off the head of a defender and requiring a stunning reaction save from Hassan to finger-tip the ball wide.
With just three minutes of the tie remaining, the Koreans had one final chance to save the game as they earned a free-kick on the cusp of the penalty area. But Kwang’s effort clipped the top of the wall and Qatar were able to go on the counter with Afif surging up the pitch before laying on pass for Ali whose chip over Cha beat the custodian only to bounce off the crossbar.
And shortly after, the referee called an end to proceedings sparking frenzied celebrations on the field from Sanchez Bas and his players as they revelled in their landmark achievement.
Coach An Ye-gun rued the missed chances and tiredness that according to him were to blame for DPR Korea’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar in Thursday’s AFC U-19 Championship final, as his side fell short in their quest for a fourth title at this tournament.
Yangon: Coach An Ye-gun rued the missed chances and tiredness that according to him were to blame for DPR Korea’s 1-0 defeat to Qatar in Thursday’s AFC U-19 Championship final, as his side fell short in their quest for a fourth title at this tournament.
Forwards Jo Sol-song and Jo Kwang-myong both had golden opportunities to open the scoring in the first half with the former seeing a shot blocked by Qatar goalkeeper Yousof Hassan and his strike-partner going even closer shortly after, as his close-range effort was deflected onto the upright and behind.
But in the second-half their prolificacy was punished as Qatar substitute Akram Afif nodded in a corner on the 50th minute mere seconds after coming on and although An’s side toiled in search of an equaliser, they struggled to create further meaningful openings as the West Asians claimed a maiden title.
“We had a lot of chances in the first half but we just couldn’t take them. If we could have scored just one of them it would have brought more strength to the players, but it wasn’t meant to be,” said An.
“And then Qatar scored early in the second-half which meant my players maybe felt too much pressure to quickly get an equaliser and they tried to attack too urgently and we couldn’t create our combinations.
“While I was satisfied with the players at half-time after their first half performance, in the second half they got tired and couldn’t play up to their or my expectations.”
Having qualified for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup by virtue of finishing amongst the top four teams, An was able to reflect on a tournament which he felt would assist him and the DPR Korea side in future competitions.
“The most important thing I’ve learned from this tournament is that the players have to be physically prepared. If you are not in the right shape even if you are a good player, you will play bad,” he added.
“I also need to focus on more physicall preparations and tactical trainings before the next tournament.
“After we return to our country, we will reflect and rest, and then in March begin our preparations for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
“We won the AFC U-19 Championship three times before, and I was really expecting us to get a fourth title tonight but it wasn’t to be.
“I’d like to congratulate Qatar on winning the championship and I have a feeling we will have many more chances to play against them in the future at this stage of tournaments.”