Rivalry already starting Olympic preparations…Uzbek all-arounders take A-match break for trials

Klinsmann’s next opponent, Vietnam, went down 0-2 against Uzbekistan in Dalian, China, on March 13.

While the question of what South Korea can gain from an exhibition match against Vietnam only heightens, another match in Uzbekistan on the same day also drew attention. Uzbekistan, a rival that South Korea defeated at the Hangzhou Asian Games, took its first steps toward Paris next year.

Uzbekistan’s U23 national team, led by Timur Kapadze, hosted Spain’s U21 national team in a 0-0 draw. It was effectively an Olympic trial for the Spaniards, who qualified for the Paris Games as runners-up at the European Under-21 Championship in July.

The focus was on the content, not the result, with both nations making full substitutions at halftime. Spain were clearly the better side, having been unlucky in goal, but Uzbekistan also earned high marks for their tenacious soccer.

Uzbekistan will now face fellow descendants of the Pharaohs, Egypt, at the same venue on Saturday. The Egyptians are already in contention for an Olympic medal, having punched their ticket to Paris as runners-up at the U23 Africa Cup of Nations, which concluded in July.스포츠토토

Uzbekistan’s Olympic ambitions were confirmed at the Asian Games, where they finished with a bronze medal. With no wildcards (athletes over the age of 24), the team traveled to the Asian Games with a predominantly Olympic-age 22-year-old squad. With all of those players in the squad for the trials, the team is expected to improve.

Uzbekistan’s early preparation compares to South Korea, which hasn’t even begun organizing its squad. The Koreans qualified for the first Asian qualifier for the Paris Olympics in Changwon last September, but the addition of some Asian Games members, such as Lee Kang-in (22, Paris Saint-Germain), could make a difference.

There is also the immediate pressure of punching their ticket to the Olympics at the U23 Asian Cup in Qatar next April.

Hwang Sun-hong, the head coach of the Korean Olympic soccer team, also emphasized the need for active support. “Uzbekistan and Japan have been preparing for the Games for nearly three years. On the other hand, there is a clear difference in that we only have a few convenings, and even those are uncertain,” he said, adding, “We need support so that we can prepare hard.”


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