AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers 2023
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Road to Qatar 2022, China 2023 set to take shape


Tuesday, June 4, 2019
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Kuala Lumpur: With Qatar and China PR as the ultimate destinations, the journey to reach two of the world's biggest football tournaments kicks off across six venues in Asia on Thursday and Friday.


At stake for the winners of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 is a place alongside 34 teams from Asia in the second round - where the likes of top-ranked Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Australia and Saudi Arabia will all be in the fray.



The Asian sides will be chasing four confirmed berths to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, with the possibility of an additional seat being won via a Continental Play-off.



For the AFC Asian Cup China PR 2023, 23 berths are available and the-AFC.com takes a look at the Round One match-ups of the Asian Qualifiers.

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Mongolia v Brunei Darussalam



Mongolia and Brunei Darussalam have the honour of kicking off the Asian Qualifiers in what promises to be a titanic battle over two legs.



Brunei Darussalam head coach Robbie Servais believes Mongolia are the favourites, especially with the first leg being played at the MFF Stadium in Ulaanbaatar but has promised that his side will give it their all as they bid to advance to the next round of the Asian Qualifiers for the first time, having undergone a rigorous training stint in China PR.



 

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Mongolia played in the second round of the 2018 Asian Qualifiers and are confident of doing so again, with head coach Michael Weiss' squad's confidence boosted by a training stint in Thailand.



Mongolia v Brunei Darussalam


Venue: MFF Stadium, Ulaanbaatar


Kick-off: June 6, 17:00 (UTC +8)




Bhutan v Guam



Bhutan enjoyed a fairytale debut in qualifying four years ago, defeating Sri Lanka in the first preliminary round of the Asian Qualifiers to book a place alongside China PR, Qatar, Hong Kong and Maldives in the second round.



Although they subsequently lost all their second round matches, Bhutan learnt a great deal and will be hoping to use that experience against a Guam side who did very well at the same stage four years ago where they won twice and drew once in Round Two.



Bhutan v Guam


Venue: Changlimithang Stadium, Thimphu


Kick-off: June 6, 18:00 (UTC +6)




Laos v Bangladesh



Recent indifferent form has seen Laos drop to the first stage of the Asian Qualifiers and the Southeast Asians will be desperate to advance. However, in Bangladesh, they will face opponents who have also lost their Round Two status from the previous campaign.



The two look evenly matched ahead of a tie that could go either way.



Laos v Bangladesh


Venue: National Stadium, KM16, Vientiane


Kick-off: June 6, 18:30 (UTC +7)




Posted by Pakistan Football Federation on Monday, 3 June 2019

Cambodia v Pakistan



Cambodia defeated Macau over two legs in the previous Asian Qualifiers to make the second round and the Keisuke Honda-managed Southeast Asians will be confident of advancing against a Pakistan side lacking competitive match exposure.



However, Cambodia will do well not underestimate the South Asians, who are once again determined to play against Asia's top sides in the next round.



Cambodia v Pakistan


National Olympic Stadium, Phnom Penh


Kick-off: June 6, 18:30 (UTC +7)




Macau v Sri Lanka



Macau and Sri Lanka both believe they have a great chance of advancing to the next stage of the Asian Qualifiers after displaying some recent good form.



Macau were stopped by Cambodia in the preliminary round of the Asian Qualifiers last time out, while Sri Lanka will be attempting to make the next stage for the first time since doing so 16 years ago.



Macau v Sri Lanka


Venue: Zhuhai Sports Center Stadium, Zhuhai


Kick-off: June 6, 19:30 (UTC +8)




Malaysia v Timor-Leste



Malaysia will have home ground advantage in both legs with Timor-Leste having opted to also play the second leg at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil and this gives Ong Kim Swee's men a definite advantage.



Malaysia are the highest ranked team in this stage of the Asian Qualifiers and will be confident of seeing off Timor-Leste for a place alongside Asia's elite in the next stage.

Timor-Leste, however, are determined to make it through to the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Qualifiers and have promised to make it a tough 180 minutes for their Malaysian opponents.



Malaysia v Timor-Leste


Venue: National Stadium, Bukit Jalil


Kick-off: June 7, 20:45 (UTC +8)






Note: Timor-Leste are ineligible to participate in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup, after the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee expelled the Federacao Futebol Timor-Leste from the tournament in January 20, 2017, for fielding ineligible players. Their participation is for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 only.



Photos: AFP, Bangladesh Football Federation, Football Federation of Sri Lanka, Football Association of Malaysia, Pakistan Football Federation

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