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AFC Asian Cup 2019 Final Draw: Possible Groups and Match-ups

Dubai: The Final Draw for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 is just hours away and it's time to turn our attention to the permutations on offer. looks at what could unfold at the prestigious tournament draw event in Dubai and which teams could be pitted against one another in the proverbial group of death, groups of champions, familiar foes and more.

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As it stands, here is the current seeding with one nation from each pot to be drawn to make six groups of four teams, with the top two and four best third-placed teams advancing into the final 16 of the competition.

Pot 1: United Arab Emirates, Islamic Republic of Iran, Australia, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia

Pot 2: China PR, Syria, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Qatar, Thailand

Pot 3: Krygyz Republic, Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, India, Vietnam

Pot 4: DPR Korea, Philippines, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen, Turkmenistan

FIFA’s Top Ranked

IR Iran (#1), China PR (#5), Kyrgyz Republic (#6), DPR Korea (#18)

A contentious one but, according to the latest FIFA Ranking (the numbers in brackets represent their standing amongst AFC Member Associations), these four comprise the strongest possible outcome from the draw and therefore present the toughest group on paper.

Defending champions Australia surprisingly miss out due to their lower FIFA Ranking, second amongst AFC MAs.

AFC Asian Cup Wins

IR Iran (37 wins), China PR (20 wins), Oman (2 wins), Bahrain (4 wins)

Rankings are all very well, but when it comes to the history of the tournament, these four teams represent the most successful group draw in terms of matches won at the continental championship.

They are also the combination of teams with the most goals scored, with a cumulative 232 AFC Asian Cup strikes to their name.

A History of Asian Cup Success

Japan (4 Titles), Iraq (1 title), India (1 Runners-up), DPR Korea or Bahrain (1 Fourth Place each)

Results are one thing, but winning when it counts is key and in this potential group we have Pot 1’s most decorated side Japan, whose four AFC Asian Cup titles are the highest in the tournament’s history, and the only side from Pot 2 to lift the continental trophy, Iraq.

Neither India, Bahrain nor DPR Korea are yet to lift an Asian championship, but are all superior in placings compared to their counterparts in their respective pots.

Regional Pride

Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines

IR Iran, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan

While there are multiple combinations of groups possible involving teams from the West Asia (WAFF) region, only four teams qualified from both Southeast Asia (AFF) and Central Asia (CAFA). The respective quartets are evenly distributed among the pots, and we could therefore see some familiar foes facing off.

The AFC Originals

Japan/Korea Republic, China PR, India, Philippines

On 8 May 1954, the Asian Football Confederation was created, and there are five of those founder members going into the draw today. The other members not present include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Israel, Indonesia, Pakistan and Singapore.

Rivalries to be renewed?

IR Iran vs Iraq: A re-match of arguably the most exciting tie at AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015, the thrilling 3-3 quarter-final in Canberra.


Australia vs Syria: A chance for the Qasioun Eagles to gain revenge for their Russia 2018 Play-Off defeat to the Socceroos.

Thailand vs Vietnam: One of ASEAN’s biggest derbies can take place in the group stages with matches between Thailand and Vietnam always sure to generate thrills and spills.

Japan vs China: A passionate game between regional rivals, a Japan-China pairing would be a repeat of the 2004 AFC Asian Cup final.

India vs the Philippines: The UAE’s large expat community includes high numbers of Indians and Filipinos, and a match-up between these two nations would be sure to bring big crowds flocking.

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