Korea to Play China in AFC U-23 Championship Opener

  • By Sung Jin-hyuk

    January 09, 2020 11:08

    Korea is set to face China in the opener of the Asian Football Confederation U-23 Championship in Thailand on Thursday.

    The tournament serves as the Asian qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, with the top four countries securing tickets. But if they do not include Japan, which automatically qualifies as the host nation, only the top three will be able to participate.

    In the group stage, 16 countries have been drawn into four groups, with Korea grouped together with China, Iran and Uzbekistan. Korea has secured a berth to the summer games eight times in a row starting with the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Its best performance so far was its third-place finish at the 2012 London Olympics.

    Kim Hak-bum (left), the head coach of the U-23 national football team, speaks at a press conference in Thailand on Wednesday. /Yonhap

    Jeong Woo-yeong of SC Freiburg has joined the Korean squad for the tournament, while Lee Kang-in of Valencia CF, who won the Golden Ball at the FIFA U-20 World Cup last year, and Paik Seung-ho of SV Darmstadt 98 were not released to play by their clubs.

    After playing China on Thursday and Iran on Sunday in Songkhla, southern Thailand, Korea's footballers will travel to the capital Bangkok to clash with Uzbekistan on Jan. 15. Korea finished second in the tournament in 2016 and fourth in 2014 and 2019.

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