Southeast Asian media unhappy with U23 Asian Cup draw

By Hoang An   November 24, 2023 | 04:11 am PT
Southeast Asian media unhappy with U23 Asian Cup draw
Indonesia celebrate the win against Thailand in U23 AFF Cup semifinal on August 24, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Lam Thoa
Southeast Asian media expressed disappointment with the draw for the 2024 U23 Asian Cup, placing Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia in challenging groups.

Indonesian media was most disappointed with the draw. CNN Indonesia commented that coach Shin Tae-yong and players will "face really tough tests."

"However, Thailand will also face formidable opponents in group C," the newspaper added.

Bolasport commented that Indonesia were put into a difficult group, along with hosts Qatar, Australia and Jordan. The newspaper advised coach Shin to be careful because Qatar and Australia are the top seeds in Asia while Jordan are 82nd on FIFA ranking.

This is Indonesia's first time in the U23 Asian Cup, and they are the only rookie among the 16 participating teams in next year's tournament.

"Condolences to Indonesia. Condolences to Southeast Asian teams," Bolasport wrote.

Thailand also fell into a challenging group with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Tajikistan. The first two teams have been champions before and Tajikistan is expected to be a strong opponent for coach Issara Sritaro and the players.

Newspaper Thairath said that Thailand's group was "too heavy", while news site Sanook said that Group C was "red hot."

Group D is the only group with two Southeast Asian teams, Vietnam and Malaysia, alongside Uzbekistan and Kuwait. Uzbekistan are considered the strongest in the group, having won the championship in 2018, the remaining spot is likely a competition between the remaining three teams.

According to the FIFA ranking, Vietnam are 94th, Kuwait are 136th and Malaysia 137th. Malaysian newspaper Bernama said that the team were in a difficult group. Sinar Harian said that Juan Torres Garrido and his players had been trapped in a "minefield."

The U23 Asian Cup takes place every two years, and is considered the final qualifying round of the Olympics. The 2024 U23 Asian Cup will take place from April 15 to May 3 in Qatar, with 16 teams divided into four groups to play in a round-robin format.

The top two teams of each group will advance to the quarterfinals. The top three teams in the tournament will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Paris, while the fourth-placed team will face Guinea in a playoff to compete for the remaining spot at the Olympics.

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