How They Got There: Part One
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 official draw takes place in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday.
Besides the prestigious regional title, 15 of the 16 teams will also be vying for three berths to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Japan having already qualified as hosts.
In Part One of our countdown to the draw, the-AFC.com takes a look at how Bahrain, DPR Korea, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan navigated through qualifying last March.
Hosts Thailand, despite having gained an automatic slot, also competed.
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Bahrain will be a team others will be hoping to avoid as they stayed perfect in Group B of the Qualifiers with wins over Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Palestine.
The West Asians scored 12 unanswered goals to seal their debut appearance at the AFC U23 Championship Finals and will be eager to continue their fine form from the Qualifiers.
DPR Korea enjoyed a 1-0 win over Mongolia in their opening Group G tie, courtesy of Jong Kum-song’s first half effort.
Their progress, however, suffered a jolt when they were held 1-1 by Singapore which meant their final tie against Hong Kong was a must win affair.
The East Asians, however, recovered from their blip to defeat Hong Kong 2-0 to seal a fourth successive appearance in the Finals.
Iraq found themselves in a tough Group C, alongside Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkmenistan and Yemen.
It mattered little to them though as they beat Yemen 5-0 and Turkmenistan 2-0 win to set up an enticing final matchday clash with Iran.
There was little to separate the two sides as the tie ended 0-0 with Iraq emerging group winners thanks to a better goal difference.
Jordan had a shaky start to their Group E qualifying campaign, needing a Mohammad Ziad Atieh effort in the second half to beat Kuwait, but displayed immense improvement to beat Kyrgyz Republic 3-0 in the following match.
It was a battle for top spot when they faced Syria on Matchday Three, but despite having to settle for a 1-1 draw with their West Asian rivals, the result was enough to send Jordan through as group winners on goal difference.
Qatar opened their Group A qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win over Afghanistan, before beating Nepal 5-0 to set-up a top-of-the-table clash with Oman on Matchday Three.
Their West Asian neighbours scored late to salvage a 2-2 draw but it wasn’t enough for Oman as the Maroons took top spot on goal difference.
United Arab Emirates
The UAE narrowly missed out on the 2018 AFC U23 Championship Finals, and entered the 2020 Qualifiers with immense determination, which was shown in their 5-0 win against Nepal in their Group D opener, before beating Maldives 3-0.
Zayed Abdulla Al Ameri had been a standout player for the Emiratis, and the striker scored his fifth goal of the qualifying campaign in the 51st minute against Saudi Arabia, but their West Asian rivals equalised 15 minutes later.
It mattered not in the end, as the UAE went through as group winners thanks to a one-goal advantage.
The 2018 champions were competing in a three-team Group F after Pakistan withdrew, and got off to a great start with a 3-0 win over India.
Their final match against Tajikistan proved to be a tough challenge with the tie ending 0-0.
Uzbekistan, however, won the group on a better goal difference and will now be focused on defending their title.
The young War Elephants confirmed their spot in the Finals as early as August 2018 when they were appointed as hosts.
Thailand, however, did not give up the opportunity to compete in the Qualifiers.
Drawn alongside Southeast Asian rivals in Group K, Thailand registered comfortable wins over Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam but suffered a 4-0 defeat to 2018 runners-up Vietnam.
What: Official Draw Ceremony
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
When: September 26, 15:00 (UTC+7)
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