Max Sakae Ogawa

Was there ever a better time to be Under 23 and a football player?

Was there ever a better time to be Under 23 and a football player?

The Under 23 Football Teams from the Asian Football Conderation (AFC) are headed back to Qatar

The Asian Football Confederation has 47 eligible teams

The road to the 2024 Paris Olympics and the Parc des Princes is long for the 47 eligible Asian teams, including the defending champion Saudi Arabia. Only 3 teams from the AFC will get to book their flights to Paris.

Why only Under 23 players?

Long story short. The age limit was introduced in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics to prevent dominance from the same few teams each time.

But an interesting quirk is that while the official Olympic team is allowed to have 3 overage players, those same players are not able to participate in the qualifying rounds which are limited to players aged U21 for most countries.

For Asia men’s teams, if you are born on or after 1 January 2001 you are eligible for selection. For women, no age restriction applies.

And here’s why it gets interesting (for me)

As a dual national of Japan and Australia, both my home nations are situated in the Asian zone. Based on the 2022 Asian Cup, Japan is currently seeded 3rd and Australia 4th in the Asian Cup. This means that they are both in Pot 1. It guarantees that they won’t play each other in the Group Stage of the qualifying rounds. Potentially, if each win their respective group stage, both Japan and Australia can go through to the 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup. And if they finish in the Top 3, both will meet again in Paris.

So the only tough choice ahead for me is to PICK A TEAM when the selectors come knocking. If only it were that easy.

Apart from qualifying to represent your nation at the Olympics, your team must make it through the pre-qualifying tournaments to be selected as one of the 3 (or 4) teams that progress from the AFC.

The Under 23 Football Pathway to the Paris Olympics

  1. 47 eligible nations from the Asian Football Confederation are divided into 11 groups (Group A to K). Seeds for the qualifying round are based on the 2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup. The pots have already been decided however the draw hasn’t yet taken place.
  2. The 2024 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers are held. Each Group will be played in a different country depending on who wants to host the Group Stage.
  3. The winner of each group is qualified for the 2024 U23 Asian Cup to be held in Qatar. Therefore, 11 nations will have qualified as outright winners of their group. Host nation, Qatar, is considered as qualified. An additional 4 best runners up from the Group stage will qualify. Bringing the total to 16 Teams who will advance to the 2024 U23 Asian Cup.
  4. The 2024 U23 Asian Cup is held.
  5. The top 3 teams advance to Paris.
  6. The 4th placed team will get a chance to play off against the 4th place winner from the African confederation. The winner of that match will go to Paris.

The Countdown for the Under 23 Football Players Begins



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2024 Paris Olympics

So many football games between now and Paris

Due to the number of games to be played, the Olympics football competition will kick off 2 days earlier than the actual Olympics. So for the start of the Olympics, add 2 days to the counter!

Was there ever a better time to be Under 23 and a football player when the next Olympics will be held so close to my new home base? I can almost guarantee I will be there, in the stands if not on the field. But I know which I prefer!

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Based in the phenomenal city of Madrid and striving to bring an excellent blogging expereince.

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