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AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

After nearly a month of exciting U23 football, we sit back and recap some of the best moments that occurred in Thailand.

Olympics tickets in hand

Unlike 2 years ago, this year AFC U23 Championship is also the Olympics qualification round, in which 3 teams including the host Japan will battle to represent the country in the biggest sports event in the world.

With the target in hand, matches are played with a high level of tension. No team wants to make silly mistakes that could cost them the match. Such occasions like these require class from the team to overcome, and certainly, South Korea U23 has demonstrated that in each and every of their matches.

AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

The East Asian side did not lose a single match in the campaign. From the group stage to the knock-out round, South Korea U23 showed many attacking plans, with 4 players now scoring 2 goals each. They are attacking-wise good, and defensively better. Kim Hak Buk and his players will now join Saudi Arabia U23 to go to the Rising Sun this summer.

Defensive tactic arises

Upon reaching the final of the tournament, Saudi Arabia U23 have shown that their defense is the foundation for their success. Prior to the match against South Korea U23, they only conceded once, against Japan U23 at their first match. Since then, they’ve kept 4 clean sheets in a row.

AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

With a solid back 4 and a devastating line of attack, Saudi Arabia deservedly gain themselves a ticket to the Olympics this summer.

VAR and its controversial decisions

In such tense matches that mistakes from the referee should not appear. But with the help of the VAR, the referee’s job is not only harder, but also more dangerous after the final whistle.

The VAR system at the regional biggest U23 tournament has also fallen short of expectations with limited camera angles, causing the referees’ decision making to be harder.

AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

Saudi Arabia U23 definitely gained the benefit of a doubt, in the quarter-final match against Thailand U23. The incident happened outside of the box, the contact in the box is insignificant, but somehow, the referee pointed into the spot. A cooly converted penalty was what it all takes to “kill Thailand’s dream” of the Olympics.

Disappointments among the contenders

Japan U23 certainly are feeling the heat of the home fans right now. Being eliminated right at the group stage at the so-called final test for them before the Olympics hosted at home this summer is nothing short of a disgrace.

Also came up short was Vietnam U23. After a miracle at China 2 years ago, Nguyen Quang Hai and his team-mates can not overcome the group stage in which they are the top contender. This proves that the next generation of Vietnamese football may not be as good as the one before, the one that shocks the whole of Asia.

AFC U23 Championship 2020 flashback: Temporary form, permanent class

Suffering the same fate is Qatar U23. The Asian Cup champion also did not qualify for the knock-out stage. Without the likes of Almoez Ali or Akram Afif, the Middle East side showed a pale performance in the group stage, and went home with much disappointment.