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Teams relishing action after Final Draw excitement 

Dubai: The Final Draw for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 on Friday produced six interesting groups as the Continent's top 24 teams get set for 28 days of high quality action in the United Arab Emirates on January 5-February 1, 2019.

Islamic Republic of Iran legend Ali Daei was excited with the result of the draw, describing it as one that promises much action next January.

Held at the Armani Hotel in Dubai's iconic Burj Khalifa, the Final Draw was a glittering affair. Join as we take a look at the composition of the six groups.

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Group A

UAE, Thailand, India, Bahrain

Hosts UAE will be aiming to stamp their mark early on as they look to go one better after finishing runners-up in the 1996 AFC Asian Cup, which they also hosted. Thailand, India and Bahrain, however, will also be confident of advancing to the Round of 16, especially as the six group winners, six runners-up and four best third-placed teams will qualify for the Knockout Stage.

What they said:

Alberto Zaccheroni - UAE Head Coach: "I am comfortable with the draw and believe that we have a good chance of advancing to the Round of 16."

Stephen Constantine - India Head Coach: "I think it’s a group that we have expectations, I believe on our day we can beat anybody, obviously it will not be easy but I think there are possibilities to qualify from this group."

Miroslav Soukup - Bahrain Head Coach: "What can I say, we have a very interesting group because we’re playing against the hosts in the opening game in front of 50,000 to 60,000 spectators, it will be great for our team. But I heard that people are saying that our group is not difficult, but whoever qualified to the Asian Cup Finals, they are strong and they have quality.


Australia, Syria, Palestine, Jordan

Defending champions Australia are the early favourites to take top spot in the group but Syria, who tested the Socceroos in their FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Continental Playoff, Palestine and Jordan will be determined to also advance.

What they said:

Ante Milicic - Australia Assistant Coach: "Being drawn against Syria is interesting and this is a battle we won't back away from. It is a good draw and I believe we will advance to the next stage."

Bernd Stange - Syria Head Coach: "I feel there should be revenge (against Australia) and the Syrian team must show what we have learnt after the defeat against Australia. But we won’t underestimate Jordan and Palestine."


Korea Republic, China PR, Kyrgyz Republic, Philippines

Korea Republic and China PR may look the favourites to seal the top two spots in the group but Kyrgyz Republic and the Philippines - who will both be making their debuts - will be driven by motivation to match two of the Continent's biggest teams.

What they said:

Shin Tae Yong - Korea Republic Head Coach: "Very happy with the draw as I am confident that we will do well in the group stage. In fact, our target is winning the title to make up for losing in the 2015 final to Australia."

Marcello Lippi - China PR Head Coach (pictured above): "I am happy with the draw as I believe we have a good chance of advancing to the next stage. Korea Republic will be tough opponents but we will be fielding a young squad and I am confident that we can do well."

Alexander Krestinin - Kyrgyz Republic Head Coach: "It is a tough group for us as we have Korea Republic and China PR but we will be aiming to create upsets. We did well to qualify for the first time and we will use this to create more in the Finals."

Philip Younghusband - Philippines Captain: "We were excited to qualify and I am excited with the group we are in. It will be a difficult challenge but this is part of our development and is very exciting for Philippines football."


IR Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Yemen

On current form, IR Iran will be favourites to seal top spot but their matches against Iraq are always competitive affairs while Vietnam and Yemen, who will be making their Finals debut, will focus on sealing a place in the Knockout Stage.

What they said:

Park Hang Seo - Vietnam Head Coach: “We’ve been grouped with one of the strongest teams in Asia - Iran. Iraq and Yemen can be very tricky teams to face but our players have experience playing West Asian teams.”

Abraham Mebratu Gebrelassie - Yemen Head Coach: “Looking at the draw, there is no easy group but when it comes to our group, Iran are one of the best together with Iraq who have plenty of experience playing internationals and Olympic matches – hence those two teams are very strong."


Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, DPR Korea

Saudi Arabia will be the team to beat in the group but Qatar, Lebanon and DPR Korea are difficult opponents, making this a group to watch.

What they said:

Juan Pizzi - Saudi Arabia Head Coach (pictured above): "It’s a good draw, all the 24 teams are at a very good level, very balanced between one group to another. And it’s also good news that the tournament has been expanded to 24 teams."

Felix Sanchez - Qatar Head Coach: “It is a strong group but once you reach this point we know what to expect in January 2019 and we will prepare the best possible way and put in a good performance.”


Japan, Uzbekistan, Oman, Turkmenistan

Four-time champions Japan will fancy their chances of advancing, as will Uzbekistan but reigning Gulf Cup champions Oman and Turkmenistan will aim to be worthy opposition.

What they said:

Ravshan Khaydarov - Uzbekistan Coach: "It is a good draw and I am confident of our chances. Japan will be tough opposition but we have beaten them before and I am also confident we can defeat Oman and Turkmenistan."

Pim Verbeek - Oman Head Coach: "Japan are the most successful team in the Asian Cup – great team, very skillful players, probably the best league in Asia. So that is going to be a very interesting game for us. Uzbekistan, very skillful young team, they won the AFC U23 Championship 2018 with a lot of young players. And we know that the Central Asian side are very strong physically. But for Turkmenistan, I have to be fair, I have no idea."

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