July 9 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has staged the draw for the U-23 Asian Cup 2022 qualifiers, reaffirming the ruling body’s commitment to the youth game after the Covid-19 pandemic has forced tweaks and cancellations across the board in other competitions.
The draw divided the 42 teams in a West and East region. In Group A, Syria, Qatar, Yemen and Sri Lanka will face off. Group B unites Iran Tajikistan, Lebanon and Nepal. Iraq, the 2013 champions, headline Group C and they will play Bahrain, Afghanistan and Maldives. In Group D, Uzbekistan’s results will not be counted.
The United Arab Emirates should be favourites to prevail in Group E with Oman, India and Kyrgyz Republic. Jordan will host Palestine and Turkmenistan for company in Group F. Australia face China PR, hosts Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam in Group G. South Korea should not have too many problems seeing off Singapore, Timor-Leste and Philippines for top spot.
In Group H, Vietnam will seek to build on their excellent results at U-23 level against Myanmar, Hong Kong and hosts Chinese Taipei in Group I. Finally, Mongolia will play host to Thailand, Malaysia and Laos in Group J while DPR Korea, Japan and Cambodia are in Group K.
The qualifiers have been scheduled for the end of October, with 11 group winners and the best four runners-up joining the host nation Uzbekistan for the final tournament next year.
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