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Việt Nam pitted against ASEAN archrivals at AFC U23 champs

Update: February, 18/2022 - 10:13

Football

Việt Nam's U23 players training. Việt Nam were drawn into Group C of the AFC U23 Championship in Uzbekistan in June. Photo of VFF

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam have been drawn into Group C of the AFC U23 Asian Cup, as they seek their first title in Uzbekistan later this year. 

The group also consists of Thailand and Malaysia, making it a mini Southeast Asian tournament, along with defending champions South Korea.

Hosts Uzbekistan, the 2018 champions, will face the Islamic Republic of Iran, Qatar and newcomers Turkmenistan to contend with in Group A.

Australia, third in the 2020 Cup, were drawn in Group B with Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait.

Japan, the 2016 champions, are in Group D with 2020 runners-up Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and debutants Tajikistan. 

The fifth edition of the championship will be played in Central Asia for the first time, with Uzbekistan hosting 32 matches across the cities of Tashkent and Karshi.

Among the participants are four former champions and nine other teams, including Việt Nam, have reached the semi-finals or better within the last decade.

The competition will be held from June 1 to 19. The two best teams of each group will advance to the quarter-finals.

Two years ago, South Korea defeated Saudi Arabia 1-0 to take the silverware in Bangkok, Thailand.

Việt Nam, who finished second in 2018, were in a tough group and could not advance to the knockout stages.

Thailand were ousted from the quarter-finals losing 1-0 to Saudi Arabia, while Malaysia did not qualify for the tournament.

In other Asian football news, matches in Group H of the AFC Champions League will be held in HCM City.

Hosts Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, who topped the Việt Nam's V.League 1 table before the season was cancelled, will play two-time winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors from South Korea, Yokohama F Marinos from Japan, and the winners of the playoffs featuring China’s Changchun Yatai and the winners of the Preliminary Stage contest between Kaya-Iloilo FC from the Philippines and Australia’s Sydney FC. 

The matches will be held from April. 

It is the third time that Hoàng Anh Gia Lai have featured in the AFC Champions League. The team's best run was two wins and one loss in the 2004 competition.

It is considered a heavy task for the hosts as K-League champion Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have won the title twice and finished second once, while Yokohama F. Marinos are first runners-up of the J-League, one of the strongest domestic tournaments in Asia. — VNS

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