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Preview: Group C 


Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Islamic Republic of Iran v Korea Republic - friendly - AFP

Kuala Lumpur: Islamic Republic of Iran headline Group C of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia equally determined to shine.


The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.

However, should Qatar - who have already qualified as hosts - win their group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

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The same applies should Qatar finish as one of the four best second-placed teams, with the fifth best group runners-up advancing to the third round of the Asian Qualifiers.

The next best 24 teams from the second round of the Asian Qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Join the-AFC.com as we take a look at the Group C cast.


IR IRAN

FIFA Ranking: 23
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Champions (1968, 1972, 1976)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: Five group stage appearances
Head Coach: Marc Wilmots (BEL)

Despite good performances in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia and AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, there was only disappointment at the end for Iran as their Russia 2018 campaign ended in the group stage while they fell in the semi-finals at UAE 2019.

Team Melli, however, remain Asia’s top ranked side and having hired Marc Wilmots as Carlos Queiroz’s replacement as head coach, Iran will be confident of sealing a third consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance.


IRAQ

FIFA Ranking: 77
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Champions (2007)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: 1986 Group Stage
Head Coach: Srečko Katanec (Slovenia)

Iraq's recent form suggests they will be confident of advancing to the third stage of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar Finals - having played at the global showpiece in 1986 - which will seal them a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.


BAHRAIN

FIFA Ranking: 109
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Fourth place (2004)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Helio Sousa (POR)

Bahrain have placed their trust in Helio Sousa to steer them in the Asian Qualifiers and have already enjoyed success under the Portuguese head coach by winning the 2019 West Asian Football Federation Championship title in July.

They will be a threat to the likes of Iran and Iraq.


HONG KONG

FIFA Ranking: 139
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Third place (1956)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Mixu Paatelainen (Finland)

Hong Kong missed out on the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 but their recent form - which saw them qualify for the 2019 EAFF E-1 Football Championship - will give them confidence in a tough group.

Head coach Mixu Paatelainen, however, believes the tough tests that Hong Kong face can only make them stronger.


CAMBODIA

ការហ្វឹកហាត់របស់កីឡាករបឋមប្រមូលផ្តុំហ្វឹកហាត់អំពីការបង្កើនល្បឿនជាមួយគ្រូជំនាញមកពីប្រទេសជប៉ុនត្រៀមចូលរួម ការប្រកួត FIFA...

Posted by សហព័ន្ធកីឡាបាល់ទាត់កម្ពុជា on Saturday, 31 August 2019

FIFA Ranking: 170
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Fourth place (1972)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Félix Dalmás (ARG)

Asian Qualifiers: Cambodia v Pakistan

Cambodia will definitely be a handful for their Group C challengers, having progressed from Round 1 of the Asian Qualifiers after defeating Pakistan 2-1 on aggregate.

The Southeast Asians are always a tough opposition when playing in Phnom Penh and they will be counting on this to boost their chances in the Asian Qualifiers.


FIXTURES

Matchday 1 - September 5: Cambodia vs Hong Kong; Bahrain vs Iraq
Matchday 2 - September 10: Cambodia vs Bahrain; Hong Kong vs Islamic Republic of Iran
Matchday 3 - October 10: Islamic Republic of Iran vs Cambodia; Iraq vs Hong Kong
Matchday 4 - October 15: Cambodia vs Iraq; Bahrain vs Islamic Republic of Iran
Matchday 5 - November 14: Hong Kong vs Bahrain; Iraq vs Islamic Republic of Iran
Matchday 6 - November 19: Iraq vs Bahrain; Hong Kong vs Cambodia
Matchday 7 - March 26: Islamic Republic of Iran vs Hong Kong; Bahrain vs Cambodia
Matchday 8 - March 31: Cambodia vs Islamic Republic of Iran; Hong Kong vs Iraq
Matchday 9 - June 4: Iraq vs Cambodia; Islamic Republic of Iran vs Bahrain
Matchday 10 - June 9: Bahrain vs Hong Kong; Islamic Republic of Iran vs Iraq

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