Inside World Football – BANGKOK, The Asian continents kicks off its qualifying round for the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Thailand 2024 Qualifiers this weekend.
29 nations will compete in eight groups – five groups of four and four of three – over three matchdays. The finals will be played in Thailand from April 17 to 28, 2024.
The qualifiers will send 15 teams to join the host nation.
This is the first time since 2008 that the qualifiers have been organised without the application of the AFC’s zoning principle, where nations qualify from their local regions.
The eight venues for the qualifiers are Bahrain, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Thailand and Uzbekistan.
The AFC’s current Futsal champions are Japan who won their fourth title in 2022, beating 12 time winners Iran in the final.
Along with with Uzbekistan and Thailand, they are the only four sides to have played in each of the previous 16 editions of the competition.
Japan open their title defence against Australia at the Taipei University Stadium. The Futsalroos, who finished fourth in 2012, are aiming for an eighth appearance in the finals and first since 2016. After Japan, Australia face hosts and 2003 quarter-finalists Chinese Taipei, who are looking for an eighth consecutive finals appearance and are competing in the qualifiers for the 13th time.
Iran are the only team in AFC Futsal Asian Cup history to have finished in the top three of every edition. They open against the Maldives at the Bishkek Arena in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Maldives have appeared twice in the Finals (2004, 2005) and are playing in their fifth Qualifiers.
The Kyrgyz Republic missed qualification in 2022, having appeared at every finals before then. Fourth-place finishers in 2006 and 2007, the hosts start against seven-time quarter-finalists Lebanon.
Thailand, hosts for the final, will also host and play in a qualifying group at the Bangkok Arena. The Thais have an automatic qualification as hosts of the 2024 finals, so their matches will be treated as friendlies.
With Turkemenistan having withdrawn Hong Kong, China and China PR, will play two-legged matches with the winner progressing to the final. Hong Kong, China last played in the tournament in 2007 while China PR, whose best finish was fourth in 2008 and 2010, are aiming for a 13th involvement in the finals.