Laos’ U19 side made headlines yesterday by opening their AFC Championship qualifying campaign with an impressive 2-2 draw against group favorites Australia. The Southeast Asian side raced into a two-goal lead before being pegged back in the second half.
However, the point will remain valuable to them as it gives them a chance of springing a surprise and qualifying for the final tournament.
Elsewhere in the group, Chinese Taipei managed an 8-0 victory over Macau, putting them on top of the group. The islanders will face Laos in their next game, in a match that could be pivotal in deciding which team makes it to Uzbekistan next year.
Thailand continued their march in Group G by putting no less than 21 goals against the Northern Mariana Islands. Not to be outdone, Malaysia managed to better the War Elephants’ 9-0 victory over Brunei by putting 11 past their neighbors, making the group a competition to wrack up the highest goal difference before the two giants face each other on the final day.
The routs continued across the tournament, as South Korea laid a marker down by putting 11 past Singapore, with nine different goalscorers. China’s 2-0 victory over Myanmar means that this group could have a similar dynamic, as will the face-off between Japan and Vietnam who beat Guam and Mongolia respectively.
Indonesia have also put themselves in a good position to qualify as they topped Group K with a 3-1 win over Timor Leste. North Korea, who likely represents their biggest challenge, only managed a 1-1 draw with Hong Kong, giving the Garuda a significant advantage.