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20 nov 13:54

Uzbekistan qualified to Asian Cup

Late goals from Vokhid Shodiev and Odil Ahmedov saw Uzbekistan secure a sixth consecutive AFC Asian Cup appearance after finally breaking down a stubborn Hong Kong, who had played over 45 minutes with just 10 men on Tuesday.

Hong Kong had appeared to have done enough to remain in contention for  a top-two finish in Group E despite Cheung Kin Fung’s red card two minutes before half-time at Hong Kong Stadium.

But with Uzbekistan knowing victory would see the 2011 semi-finalists qualify alongside the United Arab Emirates, Shodiev and Ahmedov struck inside the final six minutes to seal a third win of the campaign.

Following back-to-back wins over Vietnam, Uzbekistan almost enjoyed the ideal start after just six minutes as Shodiev headed against the Hong Kong crossbar before the ball dropped into the grateful arms of goalkeeper Yapp Hung Fai.

Uzbekistan, and in particular Ahmedov, began the resort to long range efforts as the half progressed and Hong Kong almost opened the scoring with eight minutes remaining as a long ball forward caused havoc inside the visitors’ penalty area, but Naegelein was unable to scramble the ball past Eldorbek Suyunov at the back post.

But just two minutes later Uzbekistan took full advantage as Shodiev’s empathic first time finish from inside the area gave Yapp no chance.
And with just over a minute remaining, Ahmedov swept home from close range to seal the win and leave Hong Kong left to fight for the one qualification place on offer for the best third-place finisher from across all five groups with Kim’s side set to round off their campaign against Vietnam in March next year.



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