Uzbekistan knocks out titleholder Saudi Arabia in Under-23 Asian Cup soccer

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Defending champion Saudi Arabia lost to Uzbekistan 2-0 in the Under-23 Asian Cup quarterfinals and also saw its chance of a second successive appearance at the Olympics end on Friday.

Only the top three teams from the 16-team competition qualify automatically for men’s Olympic soccer in Paris. Fourth place earns a playoff against Guinea in May.

In a reverse of the 2022 final, Uzbekistan was a comfortable winner. Khusain Norchaev scored on halftime and the Saudis' task became much harder after 70 minutes when Ayman Yahya received a second yellow card. Umarali Rakhmonaliev headed home to secure the win for the 2018 champion.

The Central Asian team will take on Indonesia in Monday’s semifinal.

Iraq defeated Vietnam 1-0 to earn a last-four clash with Japan.

Ali Jasim scored in the second half from the penalty spot after goalkeeper Quan Van Chuan fouled Mohammad Nihad in the area.

Vietnam's Nguyen Manh Hung was red-carded for stamping on Jasim in stoppage time.

Earlier Friday, the Korea Football Association apologized to fans for failing to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 1984. The team lost to Indonesia on Thursday after a shootout

“The coaching staff and players all did their best to try to qualify for our 10th consecutive Olympic Games, but unfortunately, we didn’t accomplish our goal,” the statement said. “We fully understand that the responsibility lies with us at the KFA, as we are in charge of developing and supporting national teams. We’d like to offer our sincere apology to all football fans for our failure to qualify.”


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