Doha, Qatar: Targeting a place at this year’s Paris Olympics, hosts Qatar will face a difficult challenge in 2016 champions Japan as the line-up for the first two AFC U23 Asian Cup quarter-finals was finalised yesterday.

South Korea emerged as Group B winners after edging Japan 1-0 at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium yesterday, thanks to a 75th minute header from substitute Kim Min-woo.

Hwang Sun-hong’s South Korea finished the stage with perfect nine points, setting up Thursday’s last-eight clash against debutants Indonesia, who finished runners-up in Group A.

Japan coach Go Oiwa, who rued missed opportunities in the defeat, said his team must rectify mistakes before the quarter-final against Group A toppers Qatar at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium on Thursday.

“We are now in the knockouts and we must enter the stage well prepared. The quarter-final against Qatar will be a tough challenge and we must be fully prepared as we are looking to advance to the semis,” he said.

Qatar, who played a goalless draw against Australia on Sunday to progress with seven points, are confident ahead of the knockout stage.

“It’s a crowning achievement for everything the team has delivered in the three games to not lose any matches. I’d like to make sure all the players are ready physically and mentally for the next match,” Qatar coach Ilidio Vale had said after finishing on top of Group A.

Teams achieving top three spots in the tournament will qualify for Paris Games with the fourth finishing side to be pitted against African counterparts for a play-off.

Also in Group B yesterday, China bowed out of the tournament on winning note, edging the UAE 2-1 at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.

Xie Wenneng scored the opener in 24th minute with Liu Zhurun doubling China’s advantage in fifth minute of added time in the first half. Ahmed Fawzi pulled one back three minutes into the second half but China held on to claim their first points in Qatar.

Iraq enter quarters in style

At the Khalifa International Stadium yesterday, Iraq emerged Group C winners after a 2-1 victory over defending champions Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia also reached the last eight as runners-up from the group with both sides finishing the stage on six points apiece.

Mustafa Saadoun scored the winner for Iraq in 63rd minute after Saudi Arabia’s Ahmed Mazen cancelled Ali Jassim’s (45+1 minute, pen) goal with a fine spot kick in 10th minute of added time before half-time.

Meanwhile, Tajikistan wrapped up their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Thailand with a last-gasp goal from Manuchehr Safarov at Al Janoub Stadium.

They finished third in Group C with Thailand finishing in the bottom.

Safarov scored the decisive goal in first minute of stoppage time as he rose high to head home a Amadoni Komolov cross.

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