Groups finalised for Qatar 2022 & China 2023 race
Kuala Lumpur: The Round Two draw of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 concluded in the Malaysian capital on Wednesday.
The draw, conducted by FIFA Director of Competitions Christian Unger and Australian legend Tim Cahill, saw Asia's top ranked team Islamic Republic of Iran pooled in Group C alongside Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia.
Iran will be aiming for a third consecutive appearance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, having narrowly missed on qualifying for the knockout stage in Russia 2018.
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Japan, Asia's best performers in the 2018 FIFA World Cup where they were defeated by Belgium in the Round of 16, were drawn in Group F with Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.
Korea Republic, who have appeared in every edition of the FIFA World Cup Finals since 1986, will have Lebanon, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in Group H of the Asian Qualifiers.
Saudi Arabia, who defeated Egypt 2-1 to end their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign on a high, will face Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen and Singapore in Group D.
Australia, who became the record fifth Asian team at a World Cup Finals after going through the Inter-Continental Playoff to earn a berth in Russia 2018, will go up against Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.
Qatar, who will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, were drawn in Group E alongside Bangladesh, Oman, India and Afghanistan in their bid to defend the AFC Asian Cup they won in spectacular fashion in the UAE last February.
China PR, the host for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, will have to navigate past Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam in Group A their bid for a second appearance in the FIFA World Cup Finals.
Group G had a distinct Southeast Asian flavour as ASEAN rivals Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were all drawn together, with the United Arab Emirates completing the cast.
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 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
However, should Qatar 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.
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 Qualifiers.
The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
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