Uzbekistan Secures Historic Olympic Berth in Men’s Soccer

Main image to the post Uzbekistan Secures Historic Olympic Berth in Men’s Soccer

Uzbekistan's long pursuit of an Olympic berth in men's soccer finally came to fruition as they defeated Indonesia 2-0 in the Under-23 Asian Cup semis to secure their place in the prestigious event. Their journey to the final against Japan was marked by past near-misses, including a fourth-place finish in 2020 that cost them a spot in the Tokyo Games.

In a crucial turn of events, Uzbekistan's Khusain Norchaev scored a goal in the second half after Indonesia's earlier effort was disallowed, propelling his team to the lead. The match took a further twist when Indonesia's Rizky Ridho was sent off, reducing their squad to 10 men and allowing Uzbekistan to capitalize and secure their victory with a second goal. Despite the historic Olympic berth, Uzbekistan's captain, Abdurauf Buriev, expressed ambition by stating his desire for the Asian title.

Japan also secured its eighth consecutive Olympic appearance by defeating Iraq, with captain Joel Fujita playing a pivotal role in setting up goals for Mao Hosoya and Ryotaro Araki. The upcoming playoff between Iraq and Indonesia will determine the final team to compete in the Paris Games, with the loser set to face Guinea in another playoff for a chance to qualify. Indonesia, eyeing a return to the Olympics for the first time since 1956, has been resilient throughout the tournament, upsetting strong opponents like Australia and South Korea on their path to Olympic qualification.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09