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2020 AFC U23 championship - Group A preview: Big test for Nishino

2020 AFC U23 championship - Group A preview: Big test for Nishino

The host Thailand is located in Group A of 2020 AFC U23 championship with rivals Iraq U23, Australia U23 and Bahrain U23. Nishino's team is about to have difficulty in conquering the ticket to the Olympic 2020.

2020 AFC U23 championship takes place in Thailand from January 8-26. This tournament is considered the 2020 Olympic qualifier, thus the participating teams are highly determined. Thailand enters the tournament as the host but they fell into a tough group with very strong opponents like Iraq, Australia and Bahrain.

In addition to the home advantage, Thailand U23 is inferior to their rivals in many ways. In the qualifying round, Thailand only finished second and was unable to compete as the second-best performing team, but due to being the homeowners, they should be present in the official tournament.

In particular, Thailand U23 lost to Vietnam U23 by a score of 0-4 on My Dinh stadium. Last month, Thailand U22 was eliminated from the SEA Games 30th group stage, so the Golden Pagoda fans have reasons to worry.

2020 AFC U23 championship - Group A preview: Big test for Nishino

Meanwhile, Iraq U23 shows determination in this tournament. Two years ago in Changzhou - China, Iraq was eliminated in the quarterfinals by Vietnam U23 in a thrilling penalty shootout. To win tickets to Thailand, Iraq U23 excelled to win first place in Group C after defeating Yemen, Turkmenistan and drawing Iran. In a recently friendly match, Iraq U23 also surpassed Qatar U23 with a score of 1-0.

Another opponent that is appreciated in Group A is Bahrain U23. In the qualifying round, Bahrain U23 won the first place in Group B with 9 absolute points by defeating Palestine, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. With careful preparation, Bahrain U23 is also ready to conquer the goal of winning tickets to the Olympic Games 2020.

The last team in Group A is Australia U23. Although this team only won the second position in the qualifying group, they were still a formidable opponent. After defeating Cambodia U23 and Chinese Taipei U23 with the same score of 6-0, Australia U23 forced South Korea U23 to split points in the final round with a 2-2 draw.

2020 AFC U23 championship - Group A preview: Big test for Nishino

Group A is an unpredictable group, and the opportunity is divided equally for all 4 teams. However, Iraq U23 and Thailand U23 have certain advantages. Therefore, it is likely that the tickets for the quarterfinals will belong to them. But Australia U23 and Bahrain U23 may still create a shock.

In the opening match of Group A, Iraq U23 will meet Australia U23, while Akira Nishino's team faces Bahrain U23 on January 8th, 2020.