The 2023 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Asian Cup qualifying group, which also serves as the 2024 Paris Olympics men’s soccer Asian qualifier, has been confirmed.
The Korean안전놀이터 U-22 national team, led by head coach Hwang Seon-hong, was in Group B with Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Qatar as a result of the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup preliminary draw held at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 25th (Korean time).
Korea, the winner of the 2020 tournament, was eliminated by Japan in the quarterfinals in the previous 2022 tournament.
Korea applied for the host country of the preliminaries and was specially qualified as a ‘host country port’. Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam joined the host ports.
It is noteworthy that Qatar, the host country of the finals, joined Group B. Qatar is the host country for the finals of the tournament, which will be held in April 2024. As a qualification, they automatically advance to the finals, but Qatar applied for participation in the preliminary rounds to build a sense of actual combat, and became the same group as Korea.
An official from the Korea Football Association said, “The match against Qatar has nothing to do with winning or losing. Only the results of the match against the other two teams will be considered.”
The AFC also said, “The match against Qatar has the nature of a friendly match and is not included in the calculation of the group standings.”
The preliminary schedule for this tournament will be held from September 4th to the 12th. The Korea Football Association selects a domestic stadium to hold the preliminary round later. Qatar, which is considered to threaten Korea, is excluded from the ranking, and the other two teams are Myanmar and Kyrgyz, which are one step below in terms of objective power, so Hwang Seon-Hong-Ho is considered to be in the best group. It is fortunate that I did not meet difficult Middle East teams such as Iran and Syria.
In the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers, in which a total of 43 teams participated, the 11 countries that ranked first in each group and the top four teams among the second-place teams in each group will win tickets to the finals in April next year.
Meanwhile, Japan, which defeated Korea in the 2022 tournament, entered Group D with Bahrain, Palestine and Pakistan. Vietnam, led by head coach Gong Oh-gyun, is drawn in Group C with Singapore, Yemen and Guam and will hold preliminary rounds. Indonesia, led by head coach Shin Tae-yong, is also in Group K as the host country and invites Turkmenistan and Taiwan.
North Korea, which reappears in the international competition, is expected to play a difficult match against strong team Australia, host country Tajikistan, and Southeast Asian Laos in Group I.
2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup Preliminary Group Draw Results (H stands for host country) Group
A: Jordan (H), Syria, Oman, Brunei Group
B: Korea (H), Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar (host country)
Group C : Vietnam (H), Singapore, Yemen, Guam Group
D: Japan, Bahrain (H), Palestine, Pakistan Group
E: Uzbekistan (H), Iran, Hong Kong, Afghanistan Group
F: Iraq, Kuwait (H), East Timor, Macau
Group G: UAE, India, Maldives, China (H)
Group H: Thailand (H), Malaysia, Bangladesh, Philippines
Group I: Australia, Tajikistan (H), Laos, North Korea Group
J: Saudi Arabia (H), Cambodia , Lebanon, Mongolia
Group K: Turkmenistan, Indonesia (H), Taiwan