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Preview: Group A


Wednesday, September 4, 2019
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Kuala Lumpur: Round 2 of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 kicks off in just a few days with the top 40 teams from the Continent having been divided into eight groups.


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 - who have already qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as hosts - 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.

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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 Asian Qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup China 2023.

Join the-AFC.com as we take a look at the Group A cast.


CHINA PR

FIFA Ranking: 71
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Runners-up (1984, 2004)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: Group Stage (2002)
Head Coach: Marcello Lippi (ITA)

China PR will be aiming to relive, if not better, the period between 2002 and 2004 where a first appearance in the FIFA World Cup Finals in Korea Republic/Japan was followed by a runners-up finish in the 2004 AFC Asian Cup.

Regulars in the AFC Asian Cup Finals, China PR will be targeting the title on home soil in 2023 with a place in the Finals of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar an equally important target for Marcello Lippi's squad.


SYRIA

FIFA Ranking: 87
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Six Group Stage Appearances
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Fajr Ibrahim (SYR)

Syria reached a new high in 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifying, as their brave campaign was finally ended by Australia in the Confederation Play-off.

The West Asians, however, failed to replicate that form in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 where a sixth consecutive campaign ended in the group stage and recent results, including in the 2019 WAFF Championship, have been patchy.

However, Fajr Ibrahim - the only local head coach among the five Group A teams - will have put in much effort to get his squad ready for a top two finish.


PHILIPPINES

FIFA Ranking: 126
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: Group Stage (2019)
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Goran Milojevic (SRB)

The Philippines 🇵🇭 open their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 / Asian Cup 2023 China qualifiers with a match against Syria and Guam!@TheAzkals lineup: https://t.co/5s9yfD9RGa

— The Philippine Football Federation (@philfootball) August 31, 2019

Philippines impressed in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, marking their debut appearance in the Continental Finals with several strong performances.

Having established themselves as a team to be reckoned with in Southeast Asia, Philippines will be aiming for a top two finish in Group A - which will confirm a second consecutive appearance in the AFC Asian Cup as well as a crack at qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar.


MALDIVES

There’s a little over a week left until our Senior National Team faces Guam in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers. We can hardly wait!#aharengeteam #aharengebank #bml #bankofmaldives pic.twitter.com/aUwnF9CvwA

— Football Association of Maldives (@MaldivesFA) August 24, 2019

FIFA Ranking: 152
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach:Petar Segrt (CRO)

Maldives' previous forays have not taken them close to the FIFA World Cup or AFC Asian Cup Finals but that will not hold them back against their Group A opponents.

Among Maldives' best results have come in FIFA World Cup qualifying with the 0-0 draw with Korea Republic for the 2006 edition sending shockwaves and the South Asian nation will believe they can achieve some good results against their Group A opponents.


GUAM

FIFA Ranking: 190
AFC Asian Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
FIFA World Cup Finals Record: No previous appearances
Head Coach: Karl Dodd (AUS)

Guam showed they are a force when playing at home as head coach Karl Dodd's charges exhibited in stunning fashion in Round One of the Asian Qualifiers.

Trailing 1-0 to Bhutan after the first leg, Guam bounced back to win the return 5-0 to advance and they will be counting on their strength when playing at home to make an impact and, hopefully, seal a place in the third round of the Qualifiers.


Fixtures

Matchday 1 - September 5: Guam vs Maldives; Philippines vs Syria
Matchday 2 - September 10: Guam vs Philippines; Maldives vs China PR
Matchday 3 - October 10: Syria vs Maldives; China PR vs Guam
Matchday 3 - October 15: Guam vs Syria; Philippines vs China PR
Matchday 5 - November 14: Maldives vs Philippines; Syria vs China PR
Matchday 6 - November 19: Syria vs Philippines; Maldives vs Guam
Matchday 7 - March 26: China PR vs Maldives; Philippines vs Guam
Matchday 8 - March 31: Guam vs China PR; Maldives vs Syria
Matchday 9: June 4: Syria vs Guam; China PR vs Philippines
Matchday 10 - June 9: Philippines vs Maldives; China PR vs Syria

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