Asia’s best vie for Thailand 2004
Group C, where hosts China face Korea Republic, was the pick of the draw for the Asian U-19 Women’s Championship 2004, held in Suzhou on Sunday. Other top seeds Japan Chinese Taipei and Korea DPR were more fortunate and should sail through to the quarter-finals. The finalists of the Asian finals, which takes place from 26 May to 6 June, will join hosts Thailand in the second FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship between 10 and 28 November 2004.
Fifteen teams will visit China’s historic cities Suzhou and Wuxi that will play host to the tournament's four groups of four. Two years ago, Japan and, somewhat surprisingly, Chinese Taipei made it to the final, and a berth at Canada 2002.
A: Japan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam
B: Chinese Taipei, Singapore, India, Hong Kong
C: China, Korea Republic, Guam, Philippines
D: Korea DPR, Nepal, Thailand, Uzbekistan
Japan, Chinese Taipei and Korea DPR set to cruise through
In the company of Myanmar, Malaysia and Vietnam, reigning champions Japan should top Group A without too much trouble. But it will not be easy with the fast-improving Vietnamese, especially, and Myanmar set to make it a competitive group.
Group B looks the weakest of the four with favourites Chinese Taipei expected to encounter few problems in dealing with minnows Singapore, India and Hong Kong, who look set battle it our for second spot.
Korea DPR come up in Group D against Nepal, Uzbekistan as well as the one team sure of a place in the world championship, Thailand. It will be interesting to see how the world championship hosts perform but the Koreans look certain to take top spot.
China handed Korea Republic challenge
After their failure to qualify for Canada 2002, full-back Wang Kun and midfielder Zhang Ying, who were capped at senior level during the recent Algarve Cup, will spearhead China’s challenge this time round. Despite playing in familiar fields though, they will not have it all their own way in Group C.
Korea Republic, who have among their ranks the sensational Park En-sun, present a formidable challenge. The 18-year-old’s seven goals in the AFC senior women’s championship as well as her outstanding performances at USA 2003 will make her a marked woman in the finals. Few doubt the striker possesses sufficient armoury and confidence to be capable of shooting her team to a high finish. Guam and the Philippines make up the quartet, and with two teams going through, China and Korea Republic should advance without too much trouble.