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Know Your Teams: Group A


Chonburi: With Thailand, DPR Korea, Australia and Vietnam all vying to secure a place in the semi-finals, Group A action at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 looks set to deliver plenty of memorable moments.

Ahead of the tournament’s first games on Sunday, join the-AFC.com as we bring you the first in a two-part series looking at the teams about to lock horns in Chonburi.

Sides finishing first and second in Group A will qualify for the semi-finals. The competition’s top three finishers will earn places at the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.

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Thailand

Qualification method: Qualified automatically as hosts
2017 performance: Group stage
Best finish: Fourth place (2004)

Despite already being assured of their place at this year’s Continental gathering, host nation Thailand featured in the first round of qualifying where they topped a closely contested Group A after registering two wins and a defeat.

Those matches, which coincidentally were also played in Chonburi, saw the Southeast Asians beat Nepal 3-0 before recording an emphatic 18-0 win over Pakistan – a game in which rising star Anupha Noinueai bagged seven goals.

With head coach Arun Tulwattanangkul going on record to say he is now eyeing not only a berth in the semi-finals, but also a ticket through to next year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup, hopes are high that the current crop of Thailand players have what it takes to improve on their country’s previous best finish which was fourth at the competition’s 2004 edition.


DPR Korea

Qualification method: Qualified automatically as 2017 runners-up
2017 performance: Runners-up
Best finish: Champions (2007)

2017 Final: DPR Korea vs Japan

With nine previous AFC U-19 Women’s Championship appearances to their name, former title winners DPR Korea qualified automatically for Thailand 2019 after finishing runners-up to Japan in 2017.

Crowned champions in 2007 – when Ra Un-sim’s goal proved the difference in a 1-0 win over Japan – the Koreans are yet to finish outside the top four and have featured in the competition’s final on no fewer than six occasions.

No doubt eager to end their 12-year wait for a second title success, DPR Korea’s chances will be buoyed by the quality of the squad head coach Song Sung-gwon has at his disposal, one which features the likes of teenage sensation Kim Kyong-yong who scored nine times and was named MVP when her nation won the AFC U-16 Women’s Championship in 2017.


Australia

Qualification method: Qualifiers Round 2 Group A winners
2017 performance: Fourth place
Best finish: Third place (2006)

Having finished fourth in 2017, Australia performed superbly during qualifying for Thailand 2019, winning all six of their matches to seal what will be an eighth AFC U-19 Women’s Championship outing.

The Australians, now with recently appointed head coach Leah Blayney at the helm, scored an astounding 41 goals and conceded only three times en route to Chonburi as they saw off challenges from the likes of Lebanon and Myanmar to remain perfect throughout.

Adelaide United ace Mary Fowler and Sydney United forward Princess Ibini – both of who have featured for their country’s senior team – netted seven goals apiece during the qualification phase, and the two look set to play key roles for Australia once again as the Young Matildas seek to better the third-place finish they achieved in 2006.


Vietnam

Qualification method: Qualifiers Round 2 Group B runners-up
2017 performance: Group stage
Best finish: Quarter-finals (2004)

Vietnam confirmed their place at Thailand 2019 by the slenderest of margins as they pipped the Islamic Republic of Iran to second spot in Group B courtesy of their lower fair play points at the end of the second round of qualifiers.

Despite the dramatic nature of Vietnam’s qualification, the 2004 quarter-finalists were beaten just once during their six qualifying matches, a fine run of form which saw the Southeast Asians ultimately secure a fifth appearance at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship.

Inspirational captain Nguyen Thi Tuyet Ngan led by example throughout her nation’s qualifying campaign, with the up-and-coming 19-year-old registering almost half of the 23 goals scored by Vietnam who have replaced previous head coach Mai Duc Chung with Japanese tactician Ijiri Akira since their qualification success.

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