Kuala Lumpur: With the draw for the final round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar set to be held on July 1, excitement is building as the 12 teams get set to learn their opponents.
The 12 sides went through extremely challenging times to advance to the final round, where the two group winners and runners-up will join hosts Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2022 Finals while the third-placed teams from the two groups will advance to the Confederation Playoff, with the winners moving into the Inter-Confederation Playoff.
Ahead of the draw, the-AFC.com retraces how the 12 teams booked their places from the second round of qualifying with the focus on Group G.
See also :
Asian Qualifiers: A look back at Group A
Asian Qualifiers: A look back at Group B
Asian Qualifiers: A look back at Group C
Group G of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 was easily the most competitive with United Arab Emirates in a group that had four teams from Southeast Asia - Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
The group certainly lived up to expectations with the lead changing hands several times as the UAE unexpectedly struggled to exert their influence.
Looking to add to their sole appearance in the 1990 FIFA World Cup Finals, UAE opened their campaign with 2-1 and 5-0 wins over Malaysia and Indonesia respectively.
That, however, was followed by a 2-1 loss to Thailand while Vietnam defeated the West Asian side 1-0.
With the Asian Qualifiers postponed after Matchday Six due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UAE found themselves in fourth place with Vietnam setting the pace while Malaysia and Thailand were also above the Emiratis.
The resumption in June 2021 saw the UAE hosting Group H and Bert van Marwijk's side hit the ground running as they defeated Malaysia 4-0 and Indonesia 5-0.
That was followed by a 3-1 win over Thailand to set them up nicely for a top-of-the-table clash with Vietnam, who went into the match only needing a draw to win Group G.
UAE, however, took a firm grip on the tie to race into a 3-0 lead before holding off a fightback from Vietnam to win 3-2 to emerge Group G winners and seal their place in the final round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers and book their ticket to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.
Vietnam, despite being denied by UAE on the final matchday, also advanced to the final round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time, besides sealing their place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.
Malaysia defeated Thailand on Matchday 10 to finish third, with both teams advancing to the final round of the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers.
Indonesia, meanwhile, will have to navigate through a playoff against Chinese Taipei if they are to stand a chance of featuring in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.
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