Friday , April 12 2024

AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup 2024 glory beckons in Uzbekistan!

Eight teams will kick off their quest to be crowned the Continent’s best when the AFC U-20 Women’s Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2024 gets underway this weekend.

Hosted in Uzbekistan for the first time, the 11th edition will be staged in capital city Tashkent and run from March 3 to 16, 2024.

The final draw, held last December, saw the participating teams – Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, North Korea, Japan, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Vietnam – divided into two groups of four.

The quartet of Australia, China, Chinese Taipei and Vietnam came through two qualifying rounds to be joined by the three highest-seeded teams from the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship Thailand 2019 – Japan, North Korea and South Korea – as well as Uzbekistan, who automatically qualified as hosts.

The top four teams at Uzbekistan 2024 will qualify for the 2024 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Colombia – a stage that Uzbekistan and Vietnam will hope to reach for the first time.

All four previous champions – Japan, North Korea, South Korea and China, who are also the only four sides to appear at every edition to date – are in contention to claim the title again, currently held by a Japan side aiming for a record-extending fourth straight success.

South Korea, eyeing a third triumph, face Australia in the first match on Sunday at 1pm at the Do’stlik Stadium. This will be the Group A duo’s fifth tournament meeting, with the most recent encounter coming in the previous edition in 2019 when South Korea came out on top in the third/fourth Play-off. The East Asians bagged the title in 2004 and 2013, while Australia have appeared at every Finals (nine) since joining the AFC and have finished fourth at each of the last two, with third place (2006) their highest finish.

The second Group A fixture takes place in the evening at 4pm, where Uzbekistan can count on home support at the Jar Stadium against Chinese Taipei. Both teams are making their fifth appearance, with the Central Asians targeting progress to the Knockout Stage for the first time. Their opponents, who finished second in 2002, edged Myanmar via a superior goal difference to qualify and end a 15-year absence from the tournament.

Group B commences on Monday at 1pm with a heavyweight clash between 2007 champions North Korea and 2006 winners China. The only team to have never finished outside the top four at every edition, North Korea have won the most matches (39) and scored the most goals (189) in history. FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup champions in 2006 and 2016, North Korea will be keen to break a streak of five consecutive runners-up finishes when they face China for the 10th time. The latter have finished third on five occasions and failed to reach the Knockouts for the first time in the previous edition – something they will aim to rectify this time.

Record six-time champions Japan will present a stern test for Vietnam in the second Group B encounter as the holders hunt for an 11th consecutive victory at 4pm at the Jar Stadium. The East Asians, who claimed the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2018 and finished second in 2022, have won all three previous meetings against Vietnam, who are making their sixth appearance and count a Quarter-final finish in 2004 as their best result.

All timings indicated are in local time.

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