Sixteen becomes eight in Asia’s race for Rio
The field for AFC’s three berths for this year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Rio has narrowed to eight, following the conclusion of the group stage in the AC U-23 Championship.
Qatar, Iran, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and Jordan are all still in the hunt for passage to Brazil.
Japan and Iran shapes as the highlight of last-eight fixtures based on the traditional continental pecking order, while Qatar’s match-up against Korea DPR also offers intrigue.
The other matches will see Korea Republic tackle Jordan, while United Arab Emirates face Iraq.
Japan, Korea Republic are seeking to reprise their qualification from London 2012 where the pair reached the bronze medal game, while United Arab Emirates are aiming to qualify again after many members of their golden generation performed with distinction four years ago.
The 16-nation event in Doha, Qatar completed its opening week with a handful of shocks with Saudi Arabia, China PR, Uzbekistan and Australia among some of the more established nations to miss out.
The Saudis and the Australians missed out on goal difference with the latter now set to miss a second successive tournament, having featured in the six previous Olympic competitions dating back to Seoul ’88.
The quarter-finals will take place on Friday and Saturday, but it is the semi-finals on Tuesday which will determine the first two qualifiers. Asia’s third and final ticket to Rio will be determined in the third-place match on Friday 29 January.