After a busy summer season for the seniors, autumn sees Asia’s teenagers take centre stage with two competitions acting as qualifiers for 2005’s FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands and FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru. Between 5 and 19 September, 16 teams will battle it out in Malaysia for the Asian youth crown and four spots in the world finals, and starting just five days after its finish until 8 October, Japan will play host to another four groups of four in the junior tournament where the first three teams will qualify for Peru.
Youth: Korea Republic set to dominate
After 42 teams were skittled down to 15 plus hosts Malaysia, yesterday’s (9 May) draw in Kuala Lumpur pitted perennial powers Korea Republic, bidding to capture their 11th Asian crown at this level, against Iraq, Thailand and Yemen in Group D.
Their most likely challengers, as always, will be Japan, who were chosen alongside hosts Malaysia, Vietnam and Nepal in Group A. China’s U-20 side, who should go on to form the basis of the 2008 Olympics Games’ team, were handed an easy-looking draw with Qatar, Indonesia and Iran in Group B. Top-seeded Uzbekistan must play Central Asia neighbors Turkmenistan, Syria and Laos in Group C.
Group A - Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Nepal
Group B - China, Qatar, Indonesia, Iran
Group C - Uzbekistan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Laos
Group D - Korea Republic, Thailand, Yemen, Iraq
U-17: Hosts Japan get tough draw
Japan were handed the toughest of matches in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday when they were drawn in Group A alongside top-seeded China, dark horses Korea DPR and Thailand. Reigning champions Korea Republic were placed in Group B with two-time winners Oman and rising ASEAN sides Vietnam and Laos. Group C looks the weakest of the four groups with India, Malaysia, Kuwait and Iran, while Group D features Uzbekistan, Qatar, Iraq and Bangladesh.
The finalists advance to the world finals while the third-place match will also be a decider for Peru’s last remaining Asian spot.
Group A - China, Japan, Korea DPR, Thailand
Group B - Korea Republic, Vietnam, Laos, Oman
Group C - India, Malaysia, Kuwait, Iran
Group D - Uzbekistan, Qatar, Iraq, Bangladesh