To be staged at the McEwen Reserve within Shepparton Sports City Precinct from 5 – 9 October inclusive, this four-team Group will feature host nations Australia, China PR, Cambodia, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
This is the first time Australia has hosted a Qualification Group or Qualifiers of any AFC Youth tournament since 2009, which will not only feature Australia’s leading men’s youth footballers but some of the brightest prospects in Asian football.
Football Australia CEO James Johnson welcomed the AFC’s decision to award Shepparton hosting rights for these Qualifiers.
“Greater Shepparton City Council is passionate about football and has been proactively seeking to host such an international football event for many years, so we are delighted for all involved that the city will finally see their vision come to fruition,” Johnson said.
“As one of the leading football nations within the Confederation, we are committed to bringing more global football content to local communities outside of Australia’s major cities. These AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers continue our deliberate strategy to further enhance the profile of all our national teams by taking them to more parts of the country, having gone to Canberra, Townsville, and Newcastle in recent times.
“These Qualifiers present a wonderful opportunity for football fans from across the region and further afield to witness some of Australia’s and Asia’s best-emerging talent, who are following the same elite pathway as household names in world football, creating a real ‘I was there a moment for those attending matches in October.
“We would like to thank the Greater Shepparton City Council and Australian Government for their support in bringing this important AFC event to Australia, and we look forward to working with all parties to not only deliver something special later this year but attract more AFC and FIFA content to our shores in the coming years,” Johnson concluded.
Australia’s U17 men’s youth team is better known as the “Joeys” and in previous AFC U17 Asian Cup™ campaigns, the Joeys have featured stars of Australian football including current Socceroos’ Milos Degenek, Joel King, Riley McGree, and Kye Rowles.
Greater Shepparton City Council Mayor Shane Sali said it was incredible news for Greater Shepparton to be selected to host a Group of the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers.
“It is exciting to see Greater Shepparton is the only Australian city to host the qualifiers, an incredible effort for the return of international events to our region and we can’t wait to welcome these top athletes to our city,” Cr Sali said.
“Greater Shepparton does sporting events better than anyone and the fact we were chosen to host the AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023™ Qualifiers is evidence that we are perfectly placed to host Commonwealth Games events in 2026,” he said.
“Our community has a proud football history, and we pride ourselves on investing in world-class facilities that allow for elite events to be held in a regional area. It will be a remarkable experience for our local aspiring athletes to witness some of the best junior footballers in Asia go head-to-head at our very own Shepparton Sports City precinct.”
“We look forward to working with Football Australia and the Asian Football Confederation to deliver a great event. This is a great coup for Greater Shepparton landing another international event in our region, strengthening our position as regional Australia’s sporting and events capital.”
“It will be terrific welcoming international visitors and showing them our vibrant city, with our welcoming hospitality, booming dining scene, and many unique attractions to explore such as the Shepparton Art Museum and Museum of Vehicle Evolution,” Cr Sali concluded.
This Group in Shepparton is one of ten Groups that will be contested concurrently, featuring 44 countries from across Asia, all vying for 16 spots in the 2023 AFC U17 Asian Cup To qualify for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, a team needs to top their respective Group or be one of the five best placed Group runners-up. From the 2023 AFC Asian Cup – where the host country/dates are TBA – the top four teams from this tournament will qualify for the 2023 FIFA U17 World Cup as the AFC representative.
The AFC U17 Asian Cup 2023 Qualifiers event in Shepparton is a beneficiary of funding from the Regional Sports Event Fund, supported by the Australian Sports Commission.