September 26 – The draw for the AFC U-23 finals that will be played in Thailand in January 2020 was held in Bangkok today and pitched defending champions Uzbekistan in the same group as the region’s football power houses South Korea and Iran, as well as the deeply aspirational Chinese.
Only Uzbekistan in Group C have won the AFC title before.
The tournament January 8-26 will not only crown the Asian Football Confederation’s champions but will also qualify three further teams for the Tokyo Olympic games later in the year. Japan, as Olympic hosts, have already qualified.
Each of the four groups will qualify two teams for the quarter-finals on January 18 and 19 with the semi-finals scheduled for January 22. The third-place play-off will be on January 25 with the final a day later.
The 2018 final was played in extreme weather conditions in Changzhou, China, after a snow storm had engulfed the ground with snow continuing to fall making playing conditions difficult. There no such weather issues in Thailand that will host the tournament across the three cities of Bangkok, Buriram and Songkhla.
Hosts Thailand were drawn in Group A against 2013 champions Iraq, Australia and debutants Bahrain.
Qatar, the current AFC champions at senior level, have a good record in the competition having been third in 2018. They have been drawn in Group B against 2016 champions Japan, 2013 runners-up Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
Vietnam, runners-up in 2018, will face DPR Korea, Jordan – third in 2013 – and United Arab Emirates in Group D.
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