U-23 Championship..Objectives and Goals

Friday 17/09/2021
The West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) Under-23 Championship, which will be hosted by the Saudi Federation from 4 to 12 October 2021, is of great importance.

11 teams: Saudi Arabia (hosts), Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Iraq and Kuwait, will be on a date with an important regional event through which they seek to compete for the title of the second edition of the tournament, and at the same time, they aspire to use their participation as preparation for the continental qualifying for the Under-23 Asian Cup to be held in Uzbekistan in 2022.

The draw put Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait and Oman in the first group, the second group had Palestine, UAE, Lebanon and Iraq, while the host Saudi team came in the third group alongside Bahrain and Syria next to it.

So, between the competitive goal of the tournament on the one hand, and the preparatory purpose for the Asian qualifiers on the other hand, the value of the tournament that marks its return after an absence of 6 years, when the first edition was held in 2015 under the hospitality of the Qatari Federation, whose national team came third in the tournament, behind winners Iran and runner-up Syria, and with the participation of Yemen, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

As the tournament targets an age group that constitutes the main tributary of the senior national teams of the civil federations, WAFF was keen to bring the tournament back to its agenda, and chose the date to precede the Asian qualifiers, as an opportunity for the participating teams to prepare before the continental event, which is what WAFF has always focused on during the programming of its championships in the context of its responsibilities towards the development of football in its various pillars with the national federations and the region alike.

The participation of 11 teams out of 12 representing all member associations in the region constitutes an additional value for the tournament and a strong indication to the competitiveness of its matches, as well as the attendant media and public interest that will be at the highest levels, given that the teams will be on their best appearances during the last preparatory stop before the continental qualifiers.

The draw for the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers resulted in the distribution of the West Asian teams into six groups, where Syria, Qatar (host), Yemen, Sri Lanka were in the first group, the teams of Iran, Tajikistan (host), Lebanon and Nepal came in the second group. The third group included: Iraq, Bahrain (host), Afghanistan and Maldives, while the fourth group had Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Kuwait (host) and Uzbekistan. The fifth group had UAE (host) alongside Oman, India and Kyrgyzstan while the sixth group was hosted by Jordan and included Palestine and Turkmenistan.

In general, 42 teams will participate in the qualifiers, competing from 23 to 31 October 2021, in order to obtain 15 seats in the finals, to join Uzbekistan, host of the fifth edition of the tournament, which will be held for the first time in the Central Asian region. The first-placed team in each group will qualify for the finals, along with the four best second-placed teams in the 11 groups.