AFC – KUALA LUMPUR, After 28 exciting qualifying matches, the teams have been cut from 23 to 12, who will be challenging for the AFC U20 Futsal Championship Iran 2019 title.
Host: Islamic Republic of Iran
Central Zone: Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan, Tajikistan
West Zone: Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia
East Zone: Japan, Chinese Taipei
ASEAN Zone: Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia
Defending champions and hosts of the Finals next year, Islamic Republic of Iran played in the Central Zone Qualifiers for valuable match exposure. They emerged top with two wins out of two matches, racking up 10 goals to finish as Group A winners.
Group B of the Central Zone came down to a three-way tie with all three teams securing three points each, but Kyrgyz Republic emerged top of the standings on goal difference.
Since Iran occupied top spot in their group, runners-up Afghanistan progressed to the play-off, where they beat Tajikistan 4-1 to book their spot. However, there was good news for Tajikistan, as they clinched the third and final spot, due to Iran finishing as group winners.
Similar to the Central Zone, the West Zone Qualifiers also had three spots to the Finals, and all six teams were equally competitive but two sides towered above the rest – Lebanon and 2017 runners-up Iraq, who emerged the winners of Groups A and B respectively.
Both teams remained perfect with two wins, and scoring more than 10 goals each.
Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were given a second chance in the playoff, and the Saudis overwhelmed their opponents in the first half to seal their first appearance at the AFC U20 Futsal Championship.
Japan were the best performing team in the Qualifiers, with two wins, 22 goals scored and only two conceded to seal their place as Group A winners in the East Zone.
Since the inaugural edition in 2017, many countries have laid the groundwork for youth futsal and Chinese Taipei is one of those countries. Having finished at the bottom of their group in the previous edition, Chinese Taipei will return to the Championship as Group B winners with an undefeated record.
The ASEAN Zone Qualifiers was in a league format, where all five teams played four matches each, with the top three advancing to the Finals.
Thailand, semi-finalists in 2017, had little trouble making their way to the top of the standings, confirming their berth to the Finals with one game to spare. Indonesia ultimately finished third but they sealed their spot with a game to spare after overcoming a rocky start.
Vietnam had to wait until the final match day to book their spot, as either they or Malaysia could have been the final team through but the young Golden Dragons beat their opponents, courtesy of a late goal from Woen, 2-1 to propel them into second place.