AFC U-23 Championship Qualifiers : Philippines in Group G against North Korea , Thailand and Cambodia
Kuala Lumpur: Reigning AFC U-22 Championship champions Iraq have been drawn into Group A of the qualifiers for the competition’s latest and renamed edition, the AFC U-23 Championship 2016.
The draw held at the AFC House in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Thursday saw the Iraqis grouped along with hosts of the 2013 inaugural edition Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and the Maldives.
Jordan, who finished third in 2013, were placed in Group B alongside Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, group hosts Pakistan and Turkmenistan, while runners-up Saudi Arabia will battle it out in Group C against host nation Iran, Nepal, Palestine and debutants Afghanistan.
Group D will be a hotbed of action with the UAE, Yemen, Tajikistan and Sri Lanka drawn together, while Group E comprises Syria, Uzbekistan, India and hosts Bangladesh.
In Group F, Australia, Myanmar and Hong Kong will face group hosts Chinese Taipei to fight for a place in the finals, while DPR Korea, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines will be in action in Group G.
The 2013 edition’s fourth-placed side Korea Republic have been pitted against hosts Indonesia, Timor-Leste and debutants Brunei Darussalam in Group H, while Group I sees Japan, hosts Malaysia, Vietnam and Macau vying for supremacy.
China will play hosts to Group J which is completed by Laos, Singapore and first timers Mongolia.
Ten group winners and five best-second placed teams from all groups (total 15 teams) will qualify for the final competition where hosts Qatar await.
The qualifiers will be held from March 23 to 31, 2015 while the tournament proper will be played in January 2016.
The AFC U-23 Championship 2016 will serve as the Olympics qualifiers in every alternate edition. The top three teams from the 2016 edition will represent Asia at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Groups for the AFC U-23 Championship 2016 Qualifiers
Group A Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Maldives
Group B Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkmenistan
Group C Saudi Arabia, Iran, Nepal, Palestine, Afghanistan.
Group D UAE, Yemen, Tajikistan, Sri Lanka
Group E Syria, Uzbekistan, India Bangladesh
Group F Australia, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei
Group G DPR Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines
Group H Korea Republic, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Brunei Darussalam