China’s under-23s stumble against Uzbekistan to set up crunch qualification clash with Qatar
Wei Shihao shines again for the hosts but width of the crossbar denies him a wonder goal and his side a crucial point
China followed up their opening victory over Oman with a narrow loss to Uzbekistan in their second group game at the AFC Under-23 Championship in Changzhou, Jiangsu province.
The hosts fell behind to Khojiakbar Alijonov’s strike in the first half and, despite their second period pressure, they could not find a way past Botirali Ergashev in the visitors’ goal.
China dominated possession but failed to score, a stark contrast to their opening-day win.
Starlet Wei Shihao – a new signing for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan – impressed once more, hitting the crossbar from outside the penalty area after a surging run.
The Uzbeks had lost their opening game to Qatar and the win means they are level on points with China ahead of the third and final group games on Monday.
Uzbekistan face Oman, while China play Qatar in those games, while Oman and Qatar face off on Friday evening.
China, who had never won a point in the tournament before overcoming Oman, would guarantee qualification for the knockout rounds with victory over Qatar.
The full men’s national team faced Qatar in their latest World Cup qualifying campaign, winning 2-1 in their most recent meeting in September last year to briefly keep alive hopes of making Russia 2018.
— #AFCU23 (@theafcdotcom) 12 January 2018
Earlier on Friday, the Chinese Football Association announced that Bora Militunovic, the Serbian coach who guided the country to its solitary World Cup in Japan and South Korea in 2002, was to be employed as a consultant on youth training.