Squad for AFC U-23 qualifiers announced

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Squad for AFC U-23 qualifiers announced

Korea’s football governing body on Monday unveiled a 23-player squad that will compete in the qualifying stage for the continental under-23 football tournament next month.

The KFA confirmed the roster for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship qualifying competition, where the young Taeguk Warriors will face Australia, Cambodia and Chinese Taipei in Group H.

The roster doesn’t include football prospects playing overseas, such as Lee Kang-in of Valencia and Jeong Woo-yeong of Bayern Munich. Head coach Kim Hak-bum previously hinted at using Europe-based players if Korea qualified for the AFC U-23 Championship.

Yet Kim picked a slew of young stars in Korea’s K League. His 23-man roster includes FC Seoul striker Cho Young-wook, Suwon Samsung Bluewings forward Jeon Se-jin and Jeonnam Dragons midfielder Han Chan-hee.

The men’s U-23 team will open its qualifiers against Chinese Taipei on March 22 and take on Cambodia two days later. Korea will then wrap up the qualifying campaign with Australia on March 26. All matches will be played at the National Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

There are 44 teams in the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship qualification. The 44 hopefuls are divided into the two West Asian zones, with 24 teams, and East Asia, with 20 teams.

The 24 teams in the West were divided into six groups of four, while the 20 teams in the East were split into five groups of four.

Excluding Thailand, which received automatic qualification for the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship as the host, the participating teams will need to battle for 15 available spots. The 11 group winners and four best second-place teams among all groups will get tickets to the AFC U-23 Championship finals that will be staged in January 2020.

If Thailand wins its group or is among the four best runners-up, the fifth second-place team will qualify for the finals.

The 2020 AFC U-23 Championship doubles as the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The top three teams of the tournament and Japan, the host nation of the 2020 Olympics, will advance to the quadrennial competition. If Japan reaches the semifinals, the fourth-place team will get a ticket to Tokyo 2020.

The KFA said Kim’s team will have one week of training at the National Football Center (NFC) in Paju, north of Seoul, from next Monday before departing for Cambodia on March 17.

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