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China advances to U20 Asian Cup quarterfinals following Kyrgyzstan draw

Tashkent, March 9 (IANS) China drew 1-1 with Kyrgyzstan in the third round of AFC U20 Asian Cup Group D here on Thursday to advance to the knockout stage of the competition for the first time since 2014.

China ranks second in the group with four points, while Japan edged Saudi Arabia 2-1 on Thursday to top the group with three straight wins, reports Xinhua news agency.

China will face South Korea in the quarterfinals on Sunday.

The Chinese team went 1-0 ahead in the 59th minute through an own goal by Kyrgyzstan defender Mirlan Bekberdinov. Chinese captain Aifeierding Aisikaer’s pass towards his teammate was off target, but Bekberdinov redirected the ball over the head of goalkeeper Sultan Chomoev into the net.

Kyrgyzstan then pressed hard for a goal and their efforts paid off in the 87th minute when Zhenishbekov Biimyrza fired a left-footed shot past Chinese goalkeeper Li Hao.

The Central Asians continued to threaten in the last moments and had 17 shots throughout the match, but Li Hao made a string of fine saves to ensure a draw for China.

“The Chinese team haven’t qualified for the knockout stage in this tournament for nearly ten years. I hope our qualification will give Chinese people a bit of joy. We are well-united and have strong desire to win,” said Aifeierding.



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