AFC U-23 Championship: India crash out, but continental heavyweights go through without a fuss

India rued missing some gilt-edged opportunities to score, as they crashed out of the qualifying tournament
India rued missing some gilt-edged opportunities to score, as they crashed out of the qualifying tournament

Well, another AFC U-23 Championship qualifying round came about - and once again, India were found wanting. Despite having spells in both games against Uzbekistan and Tajikistan where they were the better side, and having some gilt-edged opportunities to score, the young Blue Tigers crashed out of the tournament, having scored no goals, and conceding five.

The defending champions, Uzbekistan beat India 3-0 in the opening game, after Anirudh Thapa and Rahul KP had missed golden opportunities to score when the proceedings were still goalless. India proceeded to lose 2-0 to Tajikistan a couple of days later, having had big chances to score - Sarthak Golui being the culprit-in-chief on this occasion.

With Pakistan having withdrawn from the tournament, even before the start, India only played two games, and finished rooted to the bottom of the group, while Uzbekistan qualified for the final tournament, drawing the other game 0-0 against Tajikistan, to ensure progress on goal difference.

The Tajiks were unfortunate, as they even missed out on qualifying as one of the four best second-placed teams. They were the fifth best second-placed team, missing out on goals scored, having found the back of the net only two times.

For the sake of consistency, with some groups having three teams and others having four, the matches against the fourth-placed teams were not considered in the ranking of the second-placed teams. 7 of the 11 second-placed teams finished with four points against the top three sides in their group.

Australia were the best with a goal difference of +6, their cause being helped by a 6-0 dispatching of Cambodia. Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia finished with a goal difference of +2, the same as Tajikistan, but the three nations finished ahead of the Tajiks, having scored a goal more than the Central Asian side.

East Asian powerhouses in South Korea, China and Japan broke no sweat in ensuring qualification, as they topped their respective groups.

Although Thailand played in the tournament, they were guaranteed to qualify anyway, by virtue of being the hosts of the tournament.

Teams to have qualified for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship

Thailand (Hosts), Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Uzbekistan, North Korea, South Korea, Australia, Japan, China, Vietnam

Edited by Kingshuk Kusari
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