The U23 Asian Cup Qatar 2024 brought together South Korea, China, and Japan. Amidst the mixed reactions from each country, Ko Young-joon remained resolute.
On the 23rd, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) held the draw for the Qatar U23 Asian Cup 2024 in Doha, Qatar. As a result of the draw, South Korea was placed in Group B with Japan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and China.레모나토토 주소
The group of death is complete. The U23 Asian Cup, which takes place just before the Olympics, doubles as an Olympic qualifier, with teams needing to finish in the top three to qualify for the Games. Fourth place means an intercontinental playoff with Africa, and if you don’t make the final four, you’re out of the running.
Each port has some of the toughest opponents. Japan has been a dominant force in the Asian age-group scene. With virtually the same roster from the last Asian Games in Hangzhou 2022, they are well organized. There’s no denying that Japan is the most intimidating opponent in Pot 1 (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Japan), with the possible exception of Uzbekistan.
The same goes for the UAE. Compared to Thailand, Jordan, and Kuwait in Pot 3, the UAE is a force to be reckoned with. With the recent arrival of Paulo Bento, who has been actively using younger players to gain experience for the U23 Asian Cup, and with 15 U23 players who have only been with the A team for a year, this is quite a challenge.
China is better than Japan and the UAE, but not better than Malaysia, Tajikistan, and Indonesia in Pot 4. They’re also lumped in with South Korea and Japan, making it even harder to predict a win. Still, South Korea’s 12 wins, three draws, and two losses in their all-time head-to-head record at the age-group level makes them a winnable opponent if you’re not overly optimistic.
Some have suggested that being drawn with them in the group stage could be a blessing in disguise. “When I first saw it, I thought, ‘It’s the old days,'” said Ko Young-joon, who is eligible for the U23 Asian Cup, in an interview on the 24th, before laughing and saying, “Later, I looked at all four groups, and none of them looked easy, so I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to meet Japan and China in the group stage. I think it’s actually a good thing that we’ll be better prepared because we’ll have tricky teams that will catch us off guard,” he said.
“Japan is a Korea-Japan game, so I don’t think anyone wants to lose, and they’ll feel like they have to win. I think it will be the same with China,” he said, adding that they will play every game with a must-win mentality.
Ko was called up to the U22 squad after winning gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. Although he missed the trip to France due to a pre-call-up injury, barring any major setbacks, he is expected to be selected for the U23 Asian Cup as well as the Paris Olympics.