AFC returns U17 Asian Cup to calendar with Thailand hosting 2023 edition

June 15 – With UEFA and Concacaf focus on their Nations League finals that kick off this week, Asian activity is centred on the AFC U17 Asian Cup Thailand 2023 that kicks off today.
This will be 19th edition of the tournament and the first since its rebrand from the AFC U16 Championship in 2016.

Covid fractured the AFC’s competition structure with youth competitions the hardest hit. Thailand 2023 marks the return of an age group competition that has not been played since 2018.

Eight former champions have qualified for the 16-team group stage. The top four teams will qualify as the AFC’s representatives for the U17 World Cup in November that will be held in Peru. After the 2021 edition was cancelled, Peru was awarded the hosting rights of the next edition in 2023.

It is the fourth time Thailand has staged the championship and Bangkok will host the majority of the matches – 26, across three stadiums. The remaining five matches to be played at the south-eastern coastal city of Chonburi.

Yemen and Malaysia open the competition in the Thammasat Stadium in Group A opener. Later in the evening at 7pm, the Thais (champions in 1998) face Laos in front of a partisan Pathum Thai Stadium crowd.

On Friday two-time champions Saudi Arabia return after missing the 2018 edition to face Australia in Group C campaign at 5pm at the Chonburi Stadium. The second match in the group sees 2018 runners-up Tajikistan face China PR, who were champions in 1992 and 2004.

Also on Friday, Korea Republic (champions in 1986 and 2002) clash with Qatar in Group B’s first match at 7pm at the Pathum Thani Stadium. The Islamic Republic of Iran, winners in 2008, face Afghanistan in the group’s other match at the Rajamangala National Stadium.

Japan begin their 14th consecutive involvement and 16th overall – both records – on Saturday, in a Group D battle against Uzbekistan (champions in 2012). The Japanese have won the title three times and are the current champions (1994, 2006, 2018) and would be the first nation to retain the trophy.

The second group match is at the Thammasat Stadium between India and Vietnam. India matched their best finish from 2002 when they reached the Quarter-finals in 2018 and will hope to go further this time. Vietnam were fourth in 2000.

Group stages finish June 23 before the Quarter-finals start two days later. The final will be played Sunday, July 2 at the Pathum Thani Stadium.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1716760665labto1716760665ofdlr1716760665owedi1716760665sni@n1716760665osloh1716760665cin.l1716760665uap1716760665

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