Confirmed: Australia qualifies for 2020 AFC U-23 Championship

The Australian U-23 Men’s national team have secured a place at the 2020 AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand next January after finishing their qualification matches in Phnom Penh, Cambodia undefeated on Tuesday evening. 

Australia drew 2-2 with Korea Republic in the Cambodian capital in their third and final Group H fixture, and ended the qualification process as the top ranked second-placed side in qualifying to seal a place at next year’s 16-nation tournament.

The 2020 AFC U-23 Championship will double as the final phase of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, with the top three sides at the competition to join Japan as Asia’s representatives.

Australia last qualified for the men’s football event at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.

In Tuesday night’s match at Phnom Penh’s Olympic Stadium, Australia raced to a two-goal lead thanks to two fine finishes from Brisbane Roar FC attacker Nicholas D’Agostino.

Korea Republic hit back shortly after D’Agostino’s second, before Reno Piscopo saw his fine effort brilliantly saved, and Riley McGree nodded a good chance just wide of the woodwork. 

Korea Republic restored parity to the contest in the 63rd minute, but neither side was able to fashion a winner.

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“Over the whole tournament I couldn’t be prouder of the boys,” Australian U-23 men’s national team head coach Graham Arnold said.

“They have been away together for 16, 17 days and they haven’t really had a day off, they’ve worked really hard and I am very proud to be their coach.”  

“I thought the first half was clearly one of our best halves of football [in qualifying]. When you are a new team, and you are in a new environment, you play in bits and pieces and it is difficult to keep everything at a high standard for the full 90 minutes.

“I thought our first 55 minutes [against Korea Republic] was outstanding, and we’ve achieved the purpose of the trip which was to advance through to the next phase in Thailand.”

Roar attacker D’Agostino was named man of the match. The 21-year-old explained that he felt the team’s pre-camp in Malaysia helped Australia secure its ticket to Thailand.

“We wouldn’t have played this well if we didn’t have the camp in Malaysia before we came,” D’Agostino said. “All the boys needed to come over that week earlier and acclimatise to the heat and humidity, and Malaysia allowed us to do that.

“We put on some great performances [in Cambodia].”  


Australia U-23 national team | 2020 AFC U-23 Championship Qualification – Group H

Match 1
Australia U-23 6-0 Cambodia U-23
Friday, 22 March 2019
Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Match 2
Chinese Taipei U-23 0-6 Australia U-23
Sunday, 24 March 2019
Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Match 3
Korea Republic U-23 2-2 Australia U-23
Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Phnom Penh Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

2020 AFC U-23 Championship – Qualified Teams
Thailand (hosts), Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Uzbekistan, DPR Korea, Korea Republic, Japan, China PR, Vietnam, Australia, IR Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia