Bangkok (AFP) – South Korea and Saudi Arabia sealed qualification for the 2020 Olympic men’s football tournament on Wednesday when they reached the final of the Asian under-23 Championship in Thailand.
The competition acts as the Asian Football Confederation’s Olympic qualifiers, with places in Japan going to the top three teams.
The top two were confirmed in Wednesday’s semi-finals as South Korea defeated Australia 2-0, while Saudi Arabia beat Uzbekistan 1-0.
Kim Dae-won’s 56th-minute strike put the Koreans ahead at Thammasat Stadium on the outskirts of Bangkok. Lee Dong-kyeong added a second 14 minutes from time to earn a deserved victory over Australia.
South Korea’s reward is a spot at their ninth consecutive Olympics – a run that includes a bronze medal at London 2012.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia took until the 87th minute to find the goal that saw off the challenge of defending champions Uzbekistan at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium.
Substitute Nasser Al Omran’s shot from the edge of the box was deflected into the Uzbek goal by Abdullah Al-Hamdan, sparking wild celebrations as the Saudis ended a 24-year wait since their last appearance at an Olympic Games.
The two teams will meet in the final on Bangkok on Sunday
Olympic hosts Japan – who were eliminated at the group stage of this competition – qualify automatically for the 2020 Games.
The fourth and final Asian team will be the winner of the third place playoff between Australia and Uzbekistan on Saturday evening.
The Aussies are seeking a first Olympic appearance since 2008, while Uzbekistan would be making their debut in the competition.