In the other game of the day, Uzbekistan drubbed Turkmenistan to also seal their place in the Round of 16.
Routine victories continued in the AFC Asian Cup on a cool Sunday. Qatar got things rolling phenomenally, handing a 6-0 thrashing to North Korea at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al-Ain, thanks to four goals from Almoez Ali, confirming qualification for the knockout stages.
For North Korea, the question arises as to whether they can learn a thing or two from their neighbours South Korea when it comes to defending? Definitely. They were absolutely in tatters defensively and were made to pay by the clinical Ali. They allowed him too much space to roam with the ball and can learn from the way the South shape up defensively, showing aggressiveness and calm while defending in numbers.
Watch: DPR Korea 0-6 Qatar highlights
Qatar will raise the question of whether this gives their title-winning chances a big push? Probably. While they dominated over a frail North Korean side, they looked ruthless in attack and pulled no punches in making the Koreans pay. They’ll only improve going forward.
Another question arises about whether Almoez Ali can continue his momentum? It looks like he can. Currently, the Asian Cup’s top scorer with five goals, the way he moved, finished and showed overall brilliance in the final third, implied that he has much more to provide in the long run.
Japan also secured qualification, attaining a high-fought 1-0 win over Oman at the Zayed Sports City Stadium, Abu Dhabi, thanks to a Genki Haraguchi penalty. Did the Japanese prove their commendable defensive ability with this win? Definitely. They were very good at enduring the attacking prowess of Oman and did quite well in parrying away whatever they threw at them.
Watch: Oman 0-1 Japan highlights
However, they’ll also wonder whether they should’ve been more clinical? Yes. In the second half, Ritsu Doan and Co had many chances to seal the game, but their poor finishing allowed Oman some hope to getb back into the game.
However, for Oman, they’ll wonder whether they were robbed off at least a point by poor officiating? Probably. They had a penalty shout towards the end of the first half denied and it looked quite clear that Yuto Nagatomo had handled the ball inside the area. However, the referee waved play on, much to Oman’s dismay. They could’ve equalized there and maybe gone on to win the game later. However, a productive performance against a strong Japan team gives them hope heading into the crucial final game against Turkmenistan.
In the final game of the day, Uzbekistan continued their brilliant run, romping over Turkmenistan 4-0 at the Rashid Stadium, Dubai, thanks to a brace from Eldor Shomurodov and one apiece from Javokhir Sidikov and Jalloliddin Masharipov. For Turkmenistan, the question arises as to whether their central core let them down? Absolutely. Zafar Babajanov had an absolute shocker, letting his guard down and allowing Shomurodov to get behind him on many occasions to score goals. The others were equally poor and lost concentration, allowing the White Wolves to rip them apart in the first half.
Watch: Turkmenistan 0-4 Uzbekistan highlights
Another question is can they pull off an upset against Oman? Maybe. The Emeralds were impressive when attacking in numbers and created a few decent chances to test the White Wolves. If they improve defensively and are more clinical in attack, they can get a positive result against Oman.
Despite their big win, Uzbekistan will wonder whether they could’ve been more clinical in front of goal? Maybe. They created some great chances in the second half, but couldn’t finish them off, with one even reboundiing off the crossbar. Another question is whether they can defeat Japan? Probably. Uzbekistan looked ruthless in attack and with Shomurodov, Sidikov and Masharipov continuing their intelligent work in the final third, the Japanese are in for some trouble.