BY ZULHILMI ZAINAL Follow on Twitter
Thailand and hosts Indonesia have reached the quarter-final stage of the 2018 AFC U-19 Championship, thanks to their respective final group matchday wins.
On Wednesday, Indonesia held on to a slender one-goal lead against United Arab Emirates at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, despite playing almost half of the pulsating match with 10 men. Witan Sulaeman scored the only goal of the match in the 23rd minute after pouncing on an individual error, but it was still an uphill battle for the Garudas afterwards. Defender Nurhidayat Haris picked up a second booking and was sent off in the 53rd minute, and Indra Sjafri's charges had to endure the West Asian side's onslaught, with the match taking a frantic turn towards the very end. On a night the UAE attackers were particularly ineffective, Indonesia successfully kept the danger to their goal to a minimum, to win the tie and reach the quarter-finals as Group A runners up. They will face the mighty Japan on October 28, at the same venue.
On Thursday, it was Thailand's turn to follow the hosts, when they defeated DPR Korea 2-1 in Group B, at the Patriot Candrabhaga Stadium, Bekasi. Sampan Kesi opened the scoring for the War Elephants in the 38rd minute. Kye Tam missed the chance to equalise from the spot just four minutes later when his spot kick was by Nopphon Lakhonphon, but redeemed himself just before halftime by assisting Kang Kuk-Chol II's goal. 12 minutes from time, Korawich Tasa forced a defensive error, pounced on the ball first before slotting in the winner. As Group B runners up, they will face Qatar at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, on Sunday.
Another Southeast Asian side, Vietnam, who had already been eliminated, lost 3-1 to Australia in their last Group C match on the same night.
Malaysia meanwhile will play their last Group D match on Friday evening, against China, a match that they must win by more than one goal, while hoping that Tajikistan in second place lose to group leaders Saudi Arabia, in order to reach the knockout stage.
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