The Under-23 Brunei national team remains in Group G after the redrawn for the 2021 AFC U23 Asian Cup Qualifiers, following the withdrawal of North Korea.

This means that Brunei will play against Australia, China and Indonesia in an attempt to qualify for the competition proper next year.

The group stage qualifiers will commence from 27 to 31 October with Australia as their first opponents, followed by China on 29 October before meeting hosts Indonesia on 31 October 2021.

The redraw was conducted by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) at the AFC House Kuala Lumpur on 11 August on the grounds of the North Korean government’s travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 concerns. This forced North Korea to withdraw from the qualifiers.

Following the withdrawal of North Korea, which was initially drawn into Group K, eight teams from Group G to Group J had to be redrawn to balance the groups. Whilst an equal number of teams are intended, some groups may consist of three to four teams after the redraw.

The teams of China, Brunei Darussalam, Timor Leste, Filipina, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Laos were placed in one pot. Hong Kong was drawn out as the first team in Group K alongside Japan and Cambodia.

Group I, where Hong Kong was initially drawn, now consists of only three teams: Vietnam, Myanmar and Chinese Taipei.

Eleven group winners and four best second-placed teams will join Uzbekistan to the final tournament of the 2022 AFC U23 Asian Cup hosted by Uzbekistan from 1 to 19 June 2022.

For the record, Brunei have never qualified to the U23 competition, however the Young Wasps will attempt their very best to become among the best 16 teams for 2022.

Amid the second wave of the pandemic, there have been no official announcements on the players that will take part in the qualifiers.

This article was first published on 14 August 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 154



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