How They Got There: Part Two
Kuala Lumpur: The AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 official draw takes place in Bangkok, Thailand on Thursday.
Besides the prestigious regional title, the 15 teams will also be vying for three berths to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Japan having already having qualified as hosts.
Part two of the-AFC.com’s countdown to the draw takes a look at how Australia, China PR, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Vietnam sealed their places in the 2020 Finals.
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Australia scored emphatic 6-0 wins over Cambodia and Chinese Taipei to set up a top-of-the-table clash with Korea Republic in Group H.
They took the lead against the East Asians, only for Korea Republic to fight back with the clash ending in a 1-1 stalemate and Australia finished second in the group.
There was to be a nervous wait but Australia received their just reward as they qualified as one of the best four second-placed teams.
Always a highly competitive team in tournaments, Australia will be a side to to be reckoned with in the Finals.
China PR enjoyed a great start to their Group J qualifying campaign with a 5-0 win over Laos. The Chinese then faced the Philippines, and the East Asians cruised to an 8-0 win.
Malaysia, however, really tested the young Team Dragon as they had to come back twice to force a 2-2 draw and seal top spot in the group.
Islamic Republic of Iran
Iran defeated Turkmenistan 3-1 and Yemen 3-0 to set up an enticing clash with Iraq, who had also won their first two matches.
It was to be a tough battle for both teams with neither being able to find the net as the tie ended 0-0 with Iraq taking top spot on goal difference.
Iran’s fate - just as it had been for the 2018 edition - depended on how the action would unfold in the other groups but as the dust settled on the Qualifiers, the Central Asians were one of the four best second-placed teams.
Japan, with their eyes firmly on the 2020 Olympics on home soil, had fielded one of the youngest squads in the 2018 AFC U23 Championship and many familiar faces returned for the Thailand 2020 Qualifiers.
Two years of experience showed as they beat Macau 8-0, Timor-Leste 6-0 and Myanmar 7-0 to win Group F and send a warning that they will be contenders come January.
Korea Republic went into their final Group H tie against Australia having been untroubled by Chinese Taipei (8-0) and Cambodia (6-1).
The young Taeguk Warriors, however, were staring at defeat as Australia led 2-1 but Korea Republic rallied in the second half and Lee Dong-yeong scored the equaliser which sealed top spot and an automatic berth in the Finals.
Saudi Arabia’s emerging talent cruised to comfortable wins over Maldives (6-0) and Lebanon (2-0) but faced a strong United Arab Emirates in their final Group D match.
Saudi Arabia found themselves trailing to a 51st minute UAE goal but Saad Ali Al Saluli rescued them with the equaliser in the 64th minute.
It wasn’t enough to win the group but good enough to seal Saudi Arabia their place in the Finals as one of the best four second-placed teams.
Syria also advanced as one of the four best second-placed teams after they lost out on the Group E top spot on goal difference to Jordan, after both teams tied 1-1.
Syria had earlier defeated Kyrgyz Republic and Kuwait with 2-0 scorelines.
Vietnam, the 2018 runners-up, were unstoppable in Group K as the young Golden Dragons powered to wins over Southeast Asian rivals Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam - scoring 11 unanswered goals to sound a warning that they are determined to win the title in Thailand 2020.
What: Official Draw Ceremony
Where: Bangkok, Thailand
When: September 26, 15:00 (UTC+7)
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