Hopefuls set for Uzbekistan 2020 Qualifiers
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC U-19 Championship Uzbekistan 2020 Qualifiers resume on Saturday, with Group G kicking off the action.
Tajikistan have already secured their place in the 2020 Finals as Group C winners, after registering a perfect record of three wins against Lebanon, Syria and Maldives in October.
Nine of the remaining 10 groups will be in action till November 10, with the group winners sealing automatic spots in the Finals.
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The four best runners-up will also advance but should hosts Uzbekistan finish either top of Group F or are among the best second-placed teams, the fifth best runners-up will qualify.
Group A of the Qualifiers - featuring Iraq, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait and Pakistan - has been postponed with new dates to be announced in due course.
Qatar will host Yemen, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in Doha, and will be aiming to improve their form after suffering an early exit in the 2019 WAFF U-18 Championship in August.
Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka also did not enjoy good outings in their respective regional tournaments, making Group B an open affair.
Islamic Republic of Iran - having lifted the CAFA U-19 Championship recently - are the early favourites in Group D against the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyz Republic and Nepal.
UAE, however, will pose a challenge after finishing runners-up in the 2019 WAFF U-18 Championship.
Bahrain will be counting on home support as they seek a return to the Finals after missing out on the previous edition, with Jordan, Bangladesh and Bhutan completing Group E.
Jordan, semi-finalists in the 2019 WAFF U-18 Championship, are aiming to make their eighth appearance in the Finals, while Bangladesh will be hoping to return to the tournament after 18 years.
Defending champions Saudi Arabia will begin their title defence against Afghanistan on November 6, before playing their other Group F opponents India and Uzbekistan.
India, who won the SAFF U-18 Championship 2019 title recently, and Afghanistan have not appeared in the Finals since 2006 and 2008 respectively, while Uzbekistan narrowly missed out on the last edition.
Group G hosts Cambodia will face ASEAN rivals Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam along with Northern Mariana Islands in Phnom Penh.
Two-time champions Thailand will be seeking a return to the Finals after having suffered a quarter-final exit in 2018 but can expect to be tested by their opponents.
Australia enter the Qualifiers as winners of the AFF U-19 Championship and they will be the team to beat in Group H which also has Chinese Taipei, Macau and Laos.
Hosts Myanmar have a tough group to navigate with 12-time champions Korea Republic, 1985 winners China PR and Singapore for company.
In the past 40 editions of the AFC U-19 Championship, Korea Republic have only missed out on the Finals twice - in 1975 and 1985 - and they will be seeking a 19th consecutive appearance.
Vietnam are set to welcome Japan, Mongolia and Guam for their Group J Qualifiers, and the Southeast Asians will fancy their chances of a 20th appearance in the Finals.
Japan, the 2016 champions, have not missed a single edition since 1988 but will be wary of their challengers.
Indonesia will play host to DPR Korea, Hong Kong and Timor-Leste in Group K, and the young Garuda will be aiming to return to the Finals to better their quarter-final finish on home soil in 2018.
Three-time champions DPR Korea look set to be their toughest challenge but Hong Kong and Timor-Leste cannot be discounted.
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