07 November 2010

AFC U-16 Champions !

Tashkent: DPR Korea were crowned AFC U-16 Championship winners for the first time in history on Sunday after claiming a hard-fought 2-0 victory over 10-man Uzbekistan.

Backed by a capacity crowd at Pakhtakor Stadium the hosts were dominant from the outset and the DPR Korea defence were given their toughest test yet during the opening exchanges.

However, a straight red card after 30 minutes for Sardo Rakhmanov took the wind out of Uzbekistan’s sails and as the game wore on the balance of play began to swing in favour of the visitors.

It looked though as if the game would go to extra time only for late strikes from Ri Kwang-il and Jo Kwang to hand DPR Korea the trophy, the East Asian nation’s second youth title in less than a month following their under 19s success in China.

With the home fans in full voice, a nervous DPR Korea defence were looking somewhat shaky early in the game and gave away an early foul on the right side of the area. Timur Khakimov curled an effort towards goal that the visitors struggled to clear before Sardor Rakhmanov’s miss-hit shot went high and wide.

The crowd were celebrating in the 13th minute when Abbosbek Makhstaliev swept home but the goal was scrubbed out with the linesman having immediately raised his flag for offside.

Uzbekistan continued to threaten as Makhstaliev drilled a low free-kick that struck the bottom of the DPR Korea wall and fell at the feet of Muhammadjon Abdullaev, whose shot on the turn hit a defender before being cleared.

But the hosts were dealt a blow on the half hour when Rakhmanov was shown a straight red card after the defender leapt in feet first to challenge Jong Il-hyok.

Despite the man advantage DPR Korea were still yet to really threaten Ganisher Kholmurodov in the Uzbekistan goal and Jong fired high over the bar in the last effort of note for either side before the break.

Uzbekistan came out strong after the restart but DPR Korea had a good chance in the 55th minute when a mistake by Kholmurodov presented a chance for Kang Nam-gwon but the midfielder struggled to control the ball and sent his shot wide.

Ri Ji-song drove a low shot from the edge of the area straight at Kholmurodov 10 minutes later but the North Koreans were getting closer as Pak Myong-song stabbed a shot against the post after a free-kick had evaded almost everyone inside the area.

And their pressure eventually told when Khakimov was caught in possession just inside Uzbekistan’s half in the 74th minute and DPR Korea broke forward before Jo Kwang played a pass across the face of goal that presented fellow substitute Ri Kwang-il with a relatively simple finish from close range.

The game was then put beyond the hosts with five minutes remaining when the persistence of Ri Ji-song allowed Jang Ok-chol to have space down the left and his smart low cross was turned home at Kholmurodov’s near post by Jo Kwang.


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