Monday's quarter-final clashes of the 2010 AFC U-16 Championship saw hosts Uzbekistan, Australia, Japan and Korea DPR storm into the last four. With the continental showpiece also serving as the qualifying competition for the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, the winning quartet were thus awarded with coveted places at the global bonanza next year.
In the first match of the day, Australia rallied from two goals behind to edge out the United Arab Emirates 3-2 after extra-time to book their first qualification for the FIFA U-17 finals since they joined AFC five years ago. The Gulf outfit, winners over the boys from Down Under at the same stage two years ago, took a 2-0 lead before the break courtesy of goals from Yousif Saeed and Abdulla Moosa. Just as they looked on course for another win, the Australians hit back with Corey Brown halving the deficit nine minutes from time before Giancarlo Gallifuoco struck to force extra-time. The second-half substitute then went on to score the winner nine minutes into the first half of the additional period.
Inspired by their 8-1 win over Tajikistan in the last group fixture, Uzbekistan overcame a resilient Syria 2-1. Roared on by the home crowd, captain Abbosbek Makhstaliev broke the deadlock after 35 minutes and although Hussam Omr scored on the hour mark to draw Syria level, the home side had the final say when striker Timur Khakimov headed home seven minutes from time.
Also winning their crunch tie was Japan, who inflicted a 3-1 defeat on early tournament favourites Iraq. The game got off to an explosive start with Takumi Minamino opening the scoring for the Japanese after 12 minutes while Hussain Al Fuadi equalised for Iraq six minutes later. But the second half belonged to the East Asians, who restored their lead through Hiroki Akino before the in-form Minamino netted his second to seal victory.
In the last match, Korea DPR looked unstoppable against Jordan, firing four unanswered goals past their rivals to book their place at Mexico 2011. Striker Jo Kwang was the hero as the gifted No10 polished off a stylish hat-trick while Ju Jong-Chol was also on target as they dismantled the West Asians.
The semi-finals see Australia face the hosts while Japan cross swords with Korea DPR in three days’ time.