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MD1 Preview - Group B: Hopefuls seek early advantage

Kuala Lumpur: Group B of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 is set for an exciting start as the four teams in action on Matchday One look to hit the ground running.

With Australia the fifth team in the group, Chinese Taipei will be targeting full points against Jordan while Kuwait will expect the same against Nepal.

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Chinese Taipei, who narrowly missed out on a place in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Finals, are determined to use the lessons learnt from that qualifying campaign to seal a place in China 2023.

Head coach Louis Lancaster, who assumed the post in January, believes his team have the spirit needed to challenge the big teams in Group B.

“We may not be the favourites and we don’t have hundreds of players, but what we do have is a great environment, like a little family," said the Englishman.

Chinese Taipei's 2-0 win over Hong Kong in an international friendly showed Lancaster his side have quality and he wants them to deliver on their promise, starting with Jordan on Thursday.

Matchday One - Group B

Jordan are coming off a WAFF Championship campaign that gave them three valuable matches against eventual champions Bahrain, Group B rivals Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Although Vital Borkelmans' side missed out on the final, the West Asians showed the same quality they had exhibited in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, which had seen them stun defending champions Australia in the group stage.

Last week's friendly against Malaysia, which Jordan won 1-0, also showed that Borkelmans has built a strong team and the West Asians will be confident of a winning start.

Venue: Taipei Municipal Stadium, Taipei
Kick-off: 19:10 (UTC +8)


Kuwait, making a return to the Asian Qualifiers after missing out on the last campaign due to a FIFA suspension, will be motivated to seal a place in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 at the first time of asking.

To do that, Kuwait will have to top the group and after a 2019 WAFF Championship campaign which gave them valuable competitive exposure, head coach Romeo Jozak believes his team are ready for the first step towards what he hopes will be the West Asians regaining their former glory.

Kuwait were AFC Asian Cup champions in 1980 and among the cast for the 1982 FIFA World Cup Finals and those exalted heights are what they are aiming for.

Nepal, though, won't be lacking motivation either as the South Asians seek a first appearance in the AFC Asian Cup Finals.

Their campaign for UAE 2019 ended in the third round of qualifying but head coach Johan Kalin of Sweden has done much work with the squad and Nepal will be ready for the challenges that Group B throws at them.

Venue: Stadium of Kuwait SC, Kuwait City
Kick-off: 20:00 (UTC +3)

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