Sri Lanka was drawn in group A of the AFC U23 Championship China 2018 Qualifiers at the official draw at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday.
Apart from Sri Lanka thirty nine other hopefuls discovered their qualifying opponents during the draw.
The qualifying competition is divided into two zones – The West Zone comprises West, South, and Central Asia and the East Zone comprises East and ASEAN.
There are five groups of four teams in the West Zone (20 teams) while the East Zone have five groups of four teams too. (20 teams).
Sri Lanka is drawn alongside Islamic Republic of Iran, Oman and Kyrgyz Republic.
The ten group winners and five best second-placed teams among all the groups will advance to the finals. The qualifiers will take place from 19th to 23rd July 2017 in the respective host countries which are Kyrgyz Republic, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Myanmar, DPR Korea, Thailand and China PR.
Although directly qualified as the finals host, China PR has expressed interest to participate in the qualifying stage. Therefore, if China PR finish top of their group or finish among the five best second-placed teams, the next (sixth) second-placed team will qualify to the final stage of the competition in January, 2018.
The qualifiers will be played on 19th, 21st and 23rd July 2017. Sri Lanka’s first match will be against Iran on July 19th on match day one.
In the 2016 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers Sri Lanka finished last in group D which had United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Tajikistan. Sri Lanka lost to UAE 4-0, Yemen 5-0 and Tajikistan 5-1. Japan is the defending champions.
WEST Zone (West + South + Central)
Group A – Iran, Oman, Kyrgyz Republic (host), Sri Lanka
Group B – Iraq, Saudi Arabia (host), Bahrain, Afghanistan
Group C – Qatar (host), Syria, India, Turkmenistan
Group D – United Arab Emirates (host), Uzbekistan, Lebanon, Nepal
Group E – Jordan, Tajikistan, Palestine (host), Bangladesh
EAST Zone (East + ASEAN)
Group F – Australia, Myanmar (host), Singapore, Brunei Darussalam
Group G – DPR Korea (host), Laos, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong
Group H – Thailand (host), Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia
Group I – Korea Republic, Vietnam (host), Timor-Leste, Macau
Group J – Japan, China PR (host), Cambodia, Philippines