No easy group for Vietnam at upcoming AFC U23 Championship

Wednesday, 2019-09-25 15:34:03
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Coach Park Hang-seo (L) and Vietnam U22s are in preparation for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines this November, before heading to Thailand for the AFC U23 Championship in early next year. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)
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NDO – As the 2020 AFC U23 Championship is just around the corner, no easy group await Vietnam as the official draw for the Thailand’s tournament will take place in Bangkok on September 26.

>>> Coach Park summons 30 players for Vietnam U22s in preparation for SEA Games

With the presence of the top 16 outstanding teams in the continent, it can be said that there will be no easy group.

Vietnam, the 2018 runners-up, qualified for next year’s event as Group K’s winners in qualification, winning all three matches against Southeast Asian rivals Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei as they scored 11 unanswered goals.

16 teams will be divided into four groups and have already been seeded according to their final ranking from the last edition in China. Vietnam will be in Pot 1 along with hosts Thailand, defending champions Uzbekistan and last year’s third place winners, Qatar.

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 medallists, Korea Republic as well as regional rivals, DPR Korea.

The 2018 hosts, China and 2014 third place finishers Jordan are in Pot 3 together with Australia and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, the final pot consists of Iran, United Arab Emirates, debutants Bahrain and 2014 quarter-finalist Syria.

16 teams will vie for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship title, along with the three berths to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Photo: AFC)

Despite having a place in the No. 1 seed pot, Vietnam can be drawn into a group with the presence of big names such as Korea Republic or Japan of Pot 1, Saudi Arabia or Australia in Pot 3 and Iran or UAE in Pot 4.

Even if a lucky draw put Vietnam in a favourable group with DPR Korea (Pot 2), China (Pot 3) and Bahrain (Pot 4), the fight for a ticket to the next round would be a fierce one.

The 16 teams will vie for the regional title, as well as three qualification spots to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with Japan having already qualified as hosts. If Japan, who qualify as hosts of the Tokyo Olympic Games, are one of the leading three nations in the Thai tournament then the fourth-placed team will qualify.

The draw for the AFC U23 Championship Thailand 2020 will take place at 3 pm (local time) on Thursday afternoon in Bangkok. The tournament is scheduled from January 8-26.

Vietnam U22s under head coach Park Hang-seo are in preparations for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines this November, before heading to Thailand for the continental competition in early next year.

Vietnam U22 players in action during a training session in Hanoi on September 24. (Photo: Vietnam Football Federation)