Journey for 2019 edition begins


The AFC U-16 Women’s Championship 2019 Qualifiers Round 1 is set to kick-off following the official draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

DPR Korea, Korea Republic and Japan, the top three finishers in the 2017 edition, received direct qualification to the Finals.

Thirty teams from across Asia will vye for eight spots in Round 2 of the Qualifiers, where the teams will then be divided into two groups of four teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the Finals in 2019.

Bangladesh, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan will play hosts to Round 1 of the Qualifiers.

Each group will play a one-round league in a centralised venue.

Sri Lanka will host Group A of the Qualifiers Round 1, alongside China PR — fourth in the 2017 edition, Uzbekistan, Jordan and Guam, who all have made one appearance in the Finals in previous editions.

Tournament debutants Mongolia are set to welcome Laos, India, Hong Kong and newcomers Pakistan in Group B.

Thailand, hosts of the 2017 Finals, will travel to Tajikistan, alongside Islamic Republic of Iran Northern Mariana Islands and Singapore for the Group C ties.

Australia, who came up short in the 2017 Finals when they missed a spot in the Knockout Stage after finishing third in the group stage, will meet Chinese Taipei, Kyrgyz Republic (host), Palestine and Indonesia in Group D.

Group E hosts Nepal are grouped with Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia and Syria while in Group F, Vietnam, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Lebanon will travel to Bangladesh.

The Qualifiers Round 1 will be played on September 15 to 23, 2018 while the Qualifiers Round 2 will be held on February 23 to March 3, 2019.

The dates and hosts for the Finals will be announced in due course.