Information The FIFA World Cup U20 2023 has confirmed the 24 qualified teams once the African and Asian teams have secured the last eight spots.
CAF and AFC are the final confederations to finish their qualifiers for the World Cup U20. They are not the long and exhausting qualifying rounds seen at the senior levels, but rather regional U20 championships. The qualified teams are those who make it to the final four.
The African U20 Cup of Nations concluded earlier this week on March 11th. The tournament began in Egypt beginning on February 19 with the Senegal U20 winning their first title. Meanwhile, the Asian Cup U20, which began on March 1, is still in progess. The final is on March 18th and will feature the host, Uzbekistan, and Iraq.
FIFA has set the date for the U20 World Cup final draw. It will be held at the Taman Werdhi Budaya Art Center in Denpasar, Bali on March 31. Check out the eight nations from Africa and Asia who have sealed the last berths.
Final spots at U20 World Cup confirmed, remaining eight places from Africa and Asia
African teams, The underrated favorites
Africa is the only region which has won the World Cup U20 aside from Europe and South America. No wonder many would hope to see another African side replicate Ghana’s success in the 2009 edition. Unfortunately, The Young Black Stars themselves did not enter the competition this year. Instead, Senegal, Nigeria, Gambia and Tunisia will be the CAF representatives in the competition.
Senegal has just made four appearances so far. They have played in the final round on every occasion since 2015. It was also their best performance since they managed to go through the semifinal before the heavy loss versus Brazil and the 3-1 defeat against Mali in the third place playoff. The Young Lions of Teranga fell at the quarterfinal stage in Poland 2019.
Indonesia 2023 will be Nigeria’s 13th appearance at a FIFA U20 World Cup. Their best achievement was being the runners-up in Saudi Arabia 1989 and Netherlands 2005. The Super Eagles lost to Portugal in the 1989 final and stumbled against Lionel Messi and co in the latter. In the previous edition in 2019, they headed to the exit at the round of 16.
Meanwhile, the remaining two teams, Gambia and Tunisia, make their return after their long absence. Gambia’s last tournament was in Canada 2007, which was also their debut. At that time, they were able to pave their way to the second round after snatching two wins over Portugal and New Zealand at the group stage. Sadly, Austria ended their hope to progress further.
Tunisia, on the other hand, has not been able to qualify for nearly 40 years. It will be their third appearance in the competition this year after 1977 and 1985. Unlike Gambia, they have never got past the group stage.
Asian sides, the constant dark horses
Asian teams may haven ever won the World Cup U20, but they have promising teams, considering their achievements since late 1990s. The AFC sides have been constant dark horses in the competition. Apart from the host nation, the four qualified sides – Japan, South Korea, Uzbekistan and Iraq – certainly have the potential to break the domination of Europe and South America teams.
Japan has played in the final round 10 times before this year’s edition. The Samurai Blue even managed to get to the final in Nigeria 1999. At that time, Phillipe Troussier’s team was able to eliminate Portugal, Mexico and Uruguay en route to the showpiece event. Unfortunately, a Spanish side featuring Xavi and Iker Casilkas crushed them 4-0 to end their hope for the silverware. In Poland 2019, they went home early after losing in the round of 16.
South Korea has an even better achievement. They have qualified 16 times. Since their debut in 1979, The Taeguk Warriors have advanced to the semifinals or further twice. They even progressed to the final in the previous edition. Lee Kang-In and co were able to defeat Argentina, Senegal and Ecuador in the process. However, Ukraine denied them 3-1 in the end.
The last two teams, Uzbekistan and Iraq, are ready to stun the world. Both may have only appeared five times in the competition but their best result is beyond expectation. Uzbekistan have reached the quarterfinal twice in 2013 and 2015, whereas Iraq once went through to semifinal in Turkey 2013, plus to a quarterfinal in the 1989 edition.
Information for the draw
All teams are seeded in six groups of four. All 24 teams have already been placed into four pots. Indonesia and Iraq are not bound to be put in the same group as Israel due to their non-existent diplomatic relations. Furthermore, countries from the same continental confederation cannot be drawn together in this round.
Here are the four confirmed pots for the draw.
Pot 1: Indonesia, France, Uruguay, Senegal, Italy, USA
Pot 2: Brazil, England, Colombia, Ecuador, New Zealand, South Korea
Pot 3: Japan, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Honduras, Nigeria, Fiji
Pot 4: Slovakia, Tunisia, Israel, Dominican Rep, Gambia, Guatemala