The preliminary round between Korea and Japan for the Paris Olympics…Japan’s tension “Suddenly, a match between Korea and Japan in the first league.”

With South Korea and Japan in the same group at the U-23 Asian Cup 2024, a “group of death” for men’s soccer qualification for the Paris Olympics, the Japanese media has taken notice.

Suddenly, they’re facing South Korea in the group stage.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) held the draw for the 2024 AFC U-23 Asian Cup at the Wyndham Doha West Bay in Doha, Qatar on March 23. The South Koreans, who were drawn in Port 2, were placed in Group B with Japan, the UAE, and China.레모나토토 도메인

South Korea will be led at the U-23 Asian Cup by Hwang Sun-hong, who guided the men’s national team to its first-ever back-to-back titles at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. The top-seeded nation will face Japan, who are considered to be the favorites in their group.

The Paris Olympics kick off next July, while the U-23 Asian Cup kicks off next April in Qatar. Only three of the 16 qualifying nations can claim a direct ticket to the Olympic Games. The fourth-place finisher will play a playoff against Guinea, the fourth-place team in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualifiers.

South Korea met Japan in the quarterfinals of the previous tournament in Uzbekistan last June and lost 0-3, earning them a spot in Port 2 instead of Port 1. With the exception of Qatar, who were drawn into Port 1 as hosts, the other 15 teams were divided into four pots based on their performances at last year’s AFC U-23 Asian Cup.

Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Japan are in Port 1; Australia, Iraq and Vietnam are in Port 2; Thailand, the United Arab Emirates (UEA) and Kuwait are in Port 3; and Malaysia, Tajikistan, Indonesia and China are in Port 4. The group stage draw will feature one team from each port, which will be divided into four groups. The top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals to compete for a spot in the Paris Olympics.

The draw puts South Korea in a group with the UAE and China, along with “fateful rival” Japan. Hosts Qatar are in Pool A with Australia, Jordan, and Indonesia. Defending champions Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Thailand, and Tajikistan were assigned to Group C, while Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Kuwait, and Malaysia were drawn in Group D.

This was arguably the toughest group for South Korea. Japan, the UAE, and China are all considered to have the best power in their respective ports. Of course, South Korea is the scariest team in Port 2.

And if they make it to the quarterfinals, they’ll likely face either hosts Qatar or European-style soccer-playing Australia, making the road to the knockout rounds a tough one.

On a positive note, the team’s confidence was boosted by a recent 3-0 victory in a friendly against the French U-21 national team. While the opponents were a year younger than South Korea, the fact that they were comprised of players who play in the big leagues in Europe was a huge achievement for the team.

After the draw was announced, Hwang said, “I didn’t think the teams in the round of 16 were easy, but it was still a relatively difficult group. I don’t think they can be defended,” he said, acknowledging that they were in a ‘group of death’. “But we’re competitive, so we’re going to do our best to prepare and hopefully make it to the final tournament with a good result.”

If they make it to the quarterfinals, they will face Group A, which includes Qatar, Australia, Jordan, and Indonesia.

“Australia, Qatar, and Jordan are all traditional powerhouses. In the case of Qatar, they have the advantage of being the home team, so from the quarterfinals onwards, you have to think that the teams will come up, and if you want to get to the final, you have to think that every game is the final. We’re going to take it one game at a time, one goal at a time, so that we can get to where we want to be.”

“Obviously, we want to qualify for our 10th consecutive Olympic Games. It will be a difficult process, but we believe in our athletes’ abilities, and we will do our best to achieve our goal of qualifying for the 10th time in a row with our athletes.”

The Japanese are understandably nervous to face Korea.

“Japan is in Group B with South Korea, the UAE, and China,” said Nikkan Sports, a leading Japanese sports publication, on the 24th, “Suddenly, on their way to their eighth consecutive Olympic Games, they are facing their biggest rivals.”

“On top of that, they’re in a pretty tough group with the UAE and China.”

However, Japan has been performing just as well as the national team, including a recent resounding victory over Argentina in an exhibition match, so the Japanese media believes that they can approach the game with as much confidence as South Korea.

The newspaper said, “The team has gathered talent, including a 5-2 victory over Argentina in a friendly match on the 18th,” and added, “Although their rosters are vastly different, South Korea’s U-24 team, which includes overseas players and an over-24 wild card, lost 1-2 at the Asian Games final in Hangzhou, China. “We were drawn in a tough group with South Korea, which Japan lost to,” he said, adding that he was wary of the Koreans.

Ko Oiwa, who coaches Japan’s U-23s, also acknowledged the difficulty of the journey.

“Our opponents have been drawn and we feel that there is not a single simple match against any country,” he said after the draw, adding, “The U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers in Bahrain in September were an important step forward for us, as we realized the difficulty of the qualifiers and the struggle against Asian countries, but we were confident that we overcame the difficulties in that environment. We will prepare properly to win every match in the tournament and qualify for the Paris Olympics.”

For Hwang, there is another reason to beat Japan. They met in the quarterfinals of the previous tournament in Uzbekistan last year and lost 0-3. The loss was all the more bitter because Hwang was fielding a full U-23 squad, while Japan was preparing its U-21 squad for next year’s U-23 Asian Cup and the Paris Olympics.

The shock didn’t last long, as South Korea hosted next year’s qualifiers in Changwon in September, only to suffer a shock 0-2 loss to Qatar in their first match. They bounced back to defeat Kyrgyzstan (1-0) and Myanmar (3-0) to punch their ticket to the U-23 Asian Cup, but had they not been so lucky, they could have crashed out of the qualifiers. At the time, Qatar had won all three of their matches, including against South Korea, but as the hosts, they were excluded from the ranking calculation as they had already qualified for the tournament.

Now that they’ve taken a breather and won their recent exhibition match against France, they’re looking forward to playing Korea, Japan, and China in next year’s group stage. Japan is also nervous about South Korea’s presence.

South Korea is trying to qualify for its 10th consecutive Olympic men’s soccer tournament. After qualifying as hosts at the 1988 Seoul Games, South Korea became the first country in the world to qualify for nine consecutive Olympic men’s soccer tournaments before Tokyo 2020. A quarterfinal appearance in 2004 was followed by a bronze medal in 2012. They reached back-to-back quarterfinals in 2016 and 2020.

Japan qualified for eight consecutive tournaments since 1996 in Atlanta before reaching Tokyo 2020 as hosts. They reached the quarterfinals at both London 2012 and Tokyo 2020, but failed to medal.

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