In a historic Asian Cup debut, Tajikistan pulled off a stunning upset by defeating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on penalties and securing a spot in the quarter-finals. The game ended 1-1 in Doha, with Tajikistan emerging victorious 5-3 in the penalty shootout. Alisher Shukurov held his nerve to convert the final spot-kick.
Ranked 106th in the world and participating in their first Asian Cup, Tajikistan will face either Jordan or the 2007 champions Iraq in the quarter-finals. Goalkeeper Rustam Yatimov played a pivotal role, making a decisive save during the penalty shootout.
Tajikistan’s coach, Petar Segrt, referred to his team as “the black horses of the tournament” and expressed excitement about their journey. Vakhdat Khanonov’s 30th-minute header had initially put Tajikistan on track for a victory, but Khalifa Al-Hammadi’s 95th-minute equalizer forced the game into extra time.
Australia secured a 4-0 win over Indonesia, setting up a quarter-final clash against either South Korea or Saudi Arabia. The Socceroos, aiming for their second title, displayed solid performance in a niggly encounter. Two first-half goals, including a deflected own goal and a diving header by Martin Boyle, paved the way for Australia’s victory.
Indonesia, making their debut in the knockout rounds, provided physical resistance, but Craig Goodwin’s 89th-minute goal and Harry Souttar’s stoppage-time goal sealed Australia’s win. Coach Graham Arnold acknowledged Indonesia’s challenge, stating they made it tough with their physicality.