Stars of tomorrow set for Thailand 2020 draw
Bangkok: The draw for the eagerly anticipated AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 will take place on Thursday in Bangkok as the Continent’s top 16 teams discover their opponents for the tournament scheduled from January 8-26.
There is extra significance for this edition of the AFC U23 Championship as the top three teams will join Japan in qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in July.
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Teams will be divided into four groups and have been seeded according to their final ranking from the last edition in China PR - with position A1 reserved for Thailand who will be the first Southeast Asian nation to host the prestigious tournament.
Defending champions Uzbekistan, who secured the title with a last gasp winner in extra-time against Vietnam, will take their place alongside the 2018 runners-up in Pot 1. The two finalists will be joined by Qatar, who have recently appointed AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 winning coach, Felix Sanchez to lead them in a bid to claim their first-ever title.
Iraq and Japan, two former champions who clinched the title in 2014 and 2016 respectively, are in Pot 2 with 2016 runners-up and 2012 London Olympics bronze medalist, Korea Republic as well as regional rivals, DPR Korea.
The 2018 hosts, China PR, 2014 third place finishers Jordan are in Pot 3 together with Australia and Saudi Arabia, who will be hoping their promising stars from their AFC U-19 Championship 2018 winning side will be ready to improve on their best-ever performance when they finished runners-up to Iraq six years ago.
Meanwhile, Islamic Republic of Iran and United Arab Emirates return to the tournament after missing out on the last edition in the final pot with debutants Bahrain and 2014 quarter-finalist Syria completing the line-up.
If Japan, who qualify as hosts of the Tokyo Olympic Games, are one of the leading three nations then the fourth-placed team will qualify.
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