KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia received a favourable draw in two Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Qualifiers – the 2018 Under 19 (U-19) and Under 16 (U-16) championships which are slated to be held in September and October this year.
Based on the draw held at AFC Hous, here today, the national U-16 squad have been drawn in Group J with Guam and Indonesia but the real test will be against Japan who emerged victorious twice, back in 1994 and 2006.
Malaysia also received an easy passage to qualify to the final round of the U-19 championship as they have been drawn in Group F with three ASEAN rivals; Timor Leste, Brunei and Indonesia but facing a mammoth task against 12-time champions, South Korea who will be hosting the qualifying matches.
Based on the competition format in both qualifiers, the group winners in each of the 10 groups and also the five second-placed best teams will advance to the final rounds.
The 2018 U-16 Qualifiers will be held from Sept 16-24 while the 2018 U-19 Qualifiers from Oct 31 to Nov 8 this year in the selected host countries.
Meanwhile, AFC Head of National Team Competitions Avazbek Berdikulov revealed that Malaysia have expressed their interest to host the U-16 Final Round meet while Indonesia and Myanmar are also keen to host the U-19 Final Round meet.
He noted that the increasing number of teams taking part in both qualifiers show that AFC affiliates realise the importance of such tournaments for youth development in their respective countries.
“The only difference for this year is that each group in the qualifying round comprise four or five teams compared to the previous edition which was up to eight teams in each group. We try to make it easier for the participating teams to play in the qualifiers, thus qualify to the final round,” he said.
U-19 Qualifiers Draw:
Group A: Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan (host)
Group B: Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Tajikistan (host)
Group C: Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Qatar (host)
Group D: Yemen, Turkmenistan, India, Saudi Arabia (host)
Group E: Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iran (host)
Group F: MALAYSIA, Timor Leste, Brunei, Indonesia, South Korea (host)
Group G: China, Myanmar, Philippines, Cambodia (host)
Group H: Vietnam, Laos, Taiwan, Macau (host)
Group I: Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Mongolia (host)
Group J: Australia, North Korea, Hong Kong, Northern Mariana Islands (host)
U-16 Qualifiers Draw:
Group A: Uzbekistan, Jordan, Bahrain, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia (host)
Group B: Oman, Syria, Turkmenistan, Maldives, Tajikistan (host)
Group C: Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bhutan, Iran (host)
Group D: Iraq, India, Palestine, Nepal (host)
Group E: United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Bangladesh, Qatar (host)
Group F: North Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Brunei Darussalam (host)
Group G: Laos, Timor Leste, Northern Mariana Islands, Indonesia, Thailand (host)
Group H: South Korea, China, Myanmar, Philippines (host)
Group I: Vietnam, Australia, Cambodia, Mongolia (host)
Group J: Japan, MALAYSIA, Singapore, Guam – BERNAMA