Kuala Lumpur: The journey to identify the two teams who will be joining Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Women’s Football Tournament has begun, following the official draw for Round 1 of the Asian Qualifiers at the AFC House on Thursday.
The Qualifiers will be played over three rounds, with 18 teams participating in Round 1, while Vietnam and Uzbekistan received automatic qualification to Round 2 due to their ranking as the sixth and seventh highest Asian teams respectively.
Australia, DPR Korea, Korea Republic, China PR and Thailand have all qualified for the final round of the Qualifiers as Asia’s top five ranked teams (in descending order).
Reigning AFC Women's Asian Cup champions Japan have already qualified for the 2020 Olympics Finals as hosts and will not be taking part in the Asian Qualifiers.
In Round 1 of the Asian Qualifiers, Chinese Taipei were drawn with Philippines, Singapore, Tajikistan and first-time participants Mongolia in Group A.
Group B features Islamic Republic of Iran, who will be making their third appearance in the Qualifiers, Hong Kong and two-time WAFF Women’s Championship winners United Arab Emirates, as well as debutants Macau and Lebanon.
Myanmar reached Round 2 of the Qualifiers four years ago and will look to outdo their previous best as they go up against four-time SAFF Women’s Championship title holders India, Nepal and Bangladesh in Group C.
Jordan, who hosted the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup, are grouped with Indonesia, Palestine and Maldives in Group D.
The five-team Group A and B are set to kick-off their Round 1 campaigns on November 4, with Group C and D action starting on November 8. The winners and runners-up of each group, along with the two best third-placed teams will advance to Round 2, scheduled for next April.
The 12 teams will then be divided into three groups of four teams, with the winners of each group progressing to Round 3, which is set for January or February 2020.
Round 3 of the Asian Qualifiers will have two groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the two-leg Playoff in March 2020, and the two winners shall join Japan in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.