2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup nations confirmed

With the conclusion of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifiers earlier this week, the field has been set for the 19th edition of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup.

Korea Republic, Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines have joined 2018 hosts Jordan, defending champions Japan, 2014 silver medalists Australia and 2014 bronze medalists China in next year’s tournament.

2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup participants Thailand were the first to qualify thanks to a 6-0 win over Palestine followed up by a 1-0 win over Chinese Taipei in Group C.  This will be Thailand’s 16th appearance in the tournament.

The Philippines were next to book their place from Group B when they notched up 4-0 (UAE), 4-0 (Iraq), 8-0 (Tajikistan), 1-1 (Bahrain) and 1-5 (Jordan) results.  With Group A winner Jordan already possessing an automatic qualification berth, the Philippines second place was enough for them to head to a 9th tournament – their first since 2003.

“It was a crazy match. It was like playing for the title,” said Philippines head coach Letecia Bautista following the match against Bahrain.

“We wanted this more so we were able to bounce back and I am just thankful for the win. I am speechless. At half-time I said to my players that they needed to find some composure. Bahrain also really wanted the slot and we just had to remember how we played in the last three games.”

Canada 2015 Round of 16 participants South Korea had an at times comfortable and at times challenging path to qualification.  The Taegeuk Ladies easily swept aside India (10-0) in their opener before meeting North Korea in front of 42,500 people in Pyongyang.  The tight match ended in a 1-1 draw.  Korea Republic went on to comfortably defeat Hong Kong (6-0) and Uzbekistan (4-0) to win Group B on goal difference.

“Firstly, the players deserve full credit,” said Korea Republic coach Yoon Deok-yeo.  “When we were drawn to play here in Pyongyang, we always knew it was going to be tough because we have never played here before, but as soon as we drew DPR Korea, I had every faith that we would qualify.”

“We are delighted to have qualified but of course the work starts here, as we hope to qualify for the World Cup in France.”

2014 Asian Cup hosts Vietnam claimed the final spot at Jordan 2018 after defeating Myanmar 2-0 in a winner takes all contest.  The Vietnamese, who came into the match on top of Group D due to goal difference, put in a strong second half performance to score two goals and book their ticket to an 8th Asian Cup.

“I want to thank everyone; the players, the crowd and the media,” said Vietnam head coach Mai Duc Chung. “I’m extremely happy that we completed the mission, especially as this is our first tournament for the year, and we achieved a great result.”

“Our goal remains to play in the World Cup. However there is a big gap between Vietnam and other countries which we will try to close.”

Timing for the draw of the two groups is uncertain but expected late 2017 or early 2018.

The 8 Asian Cup participants will be vying for the 5 AFC allocations for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

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ANN ODONG

Ann is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TWG.
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