Thursday, February 08, 2007

Surprises in Asia U-23 Olympic prequalifying round

Late goals from Mubashar Hussain and Farooq Shah saw unfancied Pakistan shock Singapore 2-1 at their Jalan Besar Stadium in the first leg of the preliminary qualifying round for the U-23 Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008. In Central Asia, Uzbekistan ran out 4-1 winners against Tajikistan and a late goal from Chakrit Buatong saw Thailand edge Turkmenistan 1-0 and gain an away goal advantage for the return leg. In Yangon, India drew 1-1 with Myanmar while improving Hong Kong destroyed Bangladesh 3-0 at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka. Indonesia scraped past Maldives 1-0 at the Gelora Bungkarno in Jakarta. In West Asia, Yemen shocked Palestine 2-1.

The Afghanistan team couldn't fly to their match in Vietnam because of bad weather and must wait until FIFA decides whether they will forfeit their opportunity to qualify or if they will be granted a rematch. FIFA previously decided that the return match in Afghanistan would not be played due to security fears in the capital Kabul.

Australia were hot favourites to roll over Chinese Taipei at the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide and an 11-0 win before 1,459 fans raised no eyebrows. Australia will now travel to Taiwan for the second leg next Wednesday with the 20-man U-23 squad announced as Leigh Broxham (Melbourne Victory), Mark Bridge (Newcastle Jets), Nathan Burns (Adelaide United), Robert Cornthwaite (Adelaide United), Adam D'Apuzzo (Newcastle Jets), Spase Dilevski (Queensland Roar), Bruce Djite (Adelaide United), Ben Griffin (Queensland Roar), Ben Kennedy (Newcastle Jets), Vince Lia (Melbourne Victory), Adrian Leijer (Melbourne Victory), Mark Milligan (Sydney FC), Stuart Musialik (Newcastle Jets), Steven O’Dor (New Zealand Knights), Kristian Sarkies (Melbourne Victory), Nikolai Topor-Stanley (Sydney FC), Tando Velaphi (Perth SC), Dario Vidosic (Queensland Roar), Danny Vukovic (Central Coast Mariners), Ruben Zadkovich (Sydney FC)

The return leg of the preliminary rounds will all be held on 14 February with the overall winners of each match-up joining the second-round qualifying groups as follows:

Singapore or Pakistan will join Group A (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar), Hong Kong or Bangladesh will join Group B (Japan, Malaysia, Syria), Indonesia or Maldives and Vietnam or Afghanistan will join Group C (Oman, Lebanon), Jordan or Kyrgyzstan and Australia or Taiwan will join Group D (Iran, Saudi Arabia), Turkmenistan or Thailand and Myanmar or India will join Group E (Iraq, North Korea) and Uzbekistan or Tajikistan and Yemen or Palestine will join Group F (South Korea, UAE).

Following the playing of the second-round qualifying groups between 28 February and 6 June, the top two from each group will advance to the final round of Asian qualifiers from 22 August to 21 November to determine the three teams who will join host Team China as Asia's representatives at the Olympic Games Beijing 2008.

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