Korea in ‘Group of Death’ for AFC U-23 ChampionshipKorea will face Uzbekistan, China and Iran in next year’s Olympic men’s football qualifying tournament in Thailand.
The draw for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship took place in Bangkok on Thursday, and Korea, coached by Kim Hak-bum, ended up in Group C with those three opponents.
The U-23 tournament, scheduled to run from Jan. 8-26 across Thailand, will double as the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The top three nations will secure their spots in Tokyo. If Japan, already in the Olympics as the host country, reach the semifinals, the three other teams in the final four will be guaranteed Olympic berths.
The men’s Olympic football tournament is open only to players under 23, except for three overage players permitted per team. Korea won the bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics but lost in the quarterfinals four years later in Rio de Janeiro.
There will be 16 teams divided into four groups of four at the U-23 Championship. The top two nations from each group will move on to the knockout stage.
After the draw was complete, the AFC called Group C the “Group of Death.” Uzbekistan won the 2018 U-23 tournament, while Korea placed fourth.