With S. Korea in, 11 of 16 spots filled for Olympic men’s football tournament

January 23, 2020

With South Korea and Saudi Arabia punching their tickets to the men’s football tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday, 11 of the 16 spots at the event have been filled.

The two Asian countries qualified for the Olympics by reaching the final at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship in Thailand. The AFC event is the Asian qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020, with the top three teams advancing to the Olympics.

In the semifinals, South Korea shut down Australia 2-0, and Saudi Arabia beat Uzbekistan 1-0. The two losing teams will square off on Saturday with the last Asian spot in the Olympics at stake.

South Korean players Oh Se-hun (L) and Kang Yoon-sung celebrate a goal by their teammate Lee Dong-gyeong against Australia in the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship at Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit, Thailand, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Yonhap)
South Korean players celebrate a goal by their teammate Lee Dong-gyeong against Australia in the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship at Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit, Thailand, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Yonhap)

South Korean players Oh Se-hun (L) and Kang Yoon-sung celebrate a goal by their teammate Lee Dong-gyeong against Australia in the semifinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-23 Championship at Thammasat Stadium in Rangsit, Thailand, on Jan. 22, 2020. (Yonhap)

Asia will have four representatives, with Japan automatically in as the host country.

The European qualification ended in June last year at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. France, Germany, Romania and Spain will represent their continent in Tokyo.

New Zealand won the Oceanian qualifying tournament, the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) U-23 Championship, last October.

Out of Africa, the top three teams from the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations will play at the Olympics: Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa.

The two South American qualifiers will be determined at the 2020 South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Pre-Olympic Tournament, which began on Saturday and will conclude on Feb. 9 in Colombia.

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) will have its qualifying event from March 20-April 1 in Mexico, where two spots will be filled.

The tournament draw will take place in Tokyo on April 20.

The men’s Olympic tournament is open to players aged 23 or under — those born on Jan. 1, 1997, or later — but teams can each select three overage players as their “wild cards.”

The competition at Tokyo 2020 will be held in six cities in Japan: Tokyo, Saitama, Yokohama, Kashima, Sendai and Sapporo.

South Korea will be making their ninth straight appearance and 11th overall. The bronze from London 2012 remains their only Olympic medal in men’s football.

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