Team Korea Must Overcome Challenges From Japan and UAE
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Team Korea Must Overcome Challenges From Japan and UAE

The Korean Olympic soccer team, led by manager Hwang Sun-hong, will face challenging opponents such as Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and China in the Asian Under-23 Cup, the final Asian qualifier for the upcoming Paris Olympics.

Korea was drawn into Group B with these countries in the 2024 Under-23 Asian Cup, as revealed in the draw held on Thursday. This tournament, scheduled to take place in Qatar from April 15 to May 3 next year, will feature 16 countries divided into four groups for the initial stage. Following the group stage, each group’s first and second-place finishers will proceed to a tournament to determine the overall winner. The top three teams will secure direct advancement to the Olympic finals, while the fourth-placed team will engage in an intercontinental playoff against an African team.

Boasting a world record in this category with nine consecutive appearances in the finals since the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Korea is anticipated to encounter a challenging preliminary stage. Japan emerged as the champion in 2016, while the United Arab Emirates achieved quarterfinal berths in 2014, 2016, and 2020. China, on the other hand, has never progressed beyond the group stage in this competition.

For the defending 2020 champion Korea, an early match against Japan poses a significant challenge. Under manager Hwang, Korea experienced a 0-3 loss to Japan in the quarterfinals of the Under-23 Asian Cup last year. Although Korea secured a 2-1 victory over Japan in the finals of the Hangzhou Asian Games that concluded last month, Japan has showcased its strength by recently defeating the South American powerhouse Argentina 5-2. Korea’s historical record against Japan stands at seven wins, four draws, and six losses, providing a slight edge to Korea. Manager Hwang expressed, “It will be a bit challenging due to our placement in a relatively tough group, but I have confidence in the players’ abilities, and we will undoubtedly advance to the Olympics for the 10th consecutive time.”

Under manager Shin Tae-yong’s guidance, Indonesia has been assigned to Group A, alongside the host countries Qatar, Australia, and Jordan.

Source : Donga