Enticing draw awaits Asia's finest futsal sides
Kuala Lumpur: Asia’s best teams will learn their fate at the AFC Futsal Championship 2018 draw which will take place in Chinese Taipei on Tuesday.
11-time champions Islamic Republic of Iran will return to defend their title after remaining unbeaten in Group B of qualifying for the South and Central Zones. They booked their berth alongside Tajikistan who held their nerve to confirm a ninth appearance as group runners-up.
Like Iran, Uzbekistan went unbeaten throughout the qualifiers, scoring 22 goals and conceding only six to win Group A. Kyrgyz Republic sealed second place.
In the ASEAN Zone, Vietnam and Thailand topped their groups, while Malaysia and Myanmar finished second to progress to the regional semi-finals and, as a result, the 2018 AFC Futsal Championship.
As three-time AFC Futsal Championship winners, Japan are also one of the competition's heavyweights. They qualified with ease from the East Zone, scoring 24 goals and conceding only two to finish top of Group A.
After failing to qualify in 2016, Korea Republic will return to the tournament after pipping China PR to top spot in Group B.
China, however, duly beat Chinese Taipei on penalties in the East Zone's Play-off to secure their ticket to the AFC Futsal Championship.
Chinese Taipei qualified automatically as hosts.
The West Zone teams were forced to endure a tense qualifying campaign, with the successful quartet - Bahrain, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan - only making the cut on the final day.
16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four teams, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the quarter-finals. The first matches are set be played on February 1, 2018, with the final set for February 11.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
|Chinese Taipei (hosts)||Vietnam||China PR||Jordan|
|Islamic Republic of Iran||Japan||Malaysia||Korea Republic|
Photos: AFC, Football Association of Thailand, Vietnam Football Federation & ASEAN Football Federation