January 9 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has unveiled a three-round competition structure to qualify two women’s teams for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The draw for the first round will be held this week (Thursday January 12) with 26 teams to be divided into five groups of four and two groups of three, which will compete in a one-round league format in a centralised venue from April 3 to 11, 2023.
The group winners will progress to the second round where they will join the AFC’s five highest seeded teams – DPR Korea, Japan, Australia, China PR, and Korea Republic.
They will play in three groups of four, also at a centralised venue.
The three group winners and the best-ranked runners-up from round 2 will go forward to Round 3 where they play two pairs of home and away matches with the two eventual winners qualifying for Paris 2024.
No nation from the AFC has ever won the Olympic title though China were runners-up in 1996 and Japan were runners-up in 2012.
The 26 teams in the first round draw include two nations that have already qualified for the Women’s World Cup 2023 – Philippines and Vietnam – as well as Chinese Taipei and Thailand who could still qualify for 2023 via the play-offs next month.
The four seeding pots for the Round 1 draw are:
Pot 1 (teams ranked 6-12): Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Philippines, India.
Pot 2 (13-19): Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Nepal, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia
Pot 3 (20-26): Palestine, Singapore, Turkmenistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste.
Pot 4 (27-30 + 1 non-ranked team): Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan.
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