AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Australia, China PR to square off in unique circumstances
Doha: Australia will look to overcome numerous obstacles thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic when they meet China PR in their opening AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar Group B fixture on Thursday.
For the first time since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, the Socceroos will play a competitive home match at this stage of the Asian Qualifiers on foreign soil, with quarantine restrictions forcing the Matchday One clash away from their preferred venue of Sydney.
That means that Australia's final lap on the Road to Qatar will begin at the destination itself, with Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium to serve as the venue for a clash that could shape both sides’ World Cup ambitions.
Kuala Lumpur: Ahead of the start of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar, the-AFC.com shines the spotlight on some of the key statistics involving the participating sides.
There will be 12 teams competing for four direct tickets to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and we present some of the key facts and figures that give further colour and context to the campaigns that are set to play out on the Road to Qatar.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Korea Republic braced for tough Iraq
Seoul: Despite being led by an in-form Son Heung-min, Korea Republic must not take opponents Iraq, under newly appointed coach Dick Advocaat, for granted in their AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar opener at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Thursday.
Korea Republic have eased through the AFC Asian Qualifiers so far, winning Group H with five wins and a draw, scoring 22 and conceding just once, but the competition is set to step up a gear in a Group A that features some difficult encounters, not least Thursday's Matchday One opponents Iraq.
Veteran Dutch coach Advocaat, 73, was appointed to the helm at the beginning of August and, as such, will bring with him a wealth of experience and a new-look and approach to a team that is already bristling with talent. Korea Republic coach Paulo Bento is well-aware of the challenge of the unknown that his charges face.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Japan confident as Oman loom
Osaka: Hajime Moriyasu will look to embrace the positives of Japan’s run to the semi-finals at the Olympic Games as he leads the Samurai Blue into their opening game of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Thursday against Oman at Suita City Football Stadium.
Moriyasu, who serves as both the Olympic and senior men’s national team coach, led the country’s U24 squad to fourth place at Tokyo 2020 after guiding the Samurai Blue into the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar with a perfect record.
The Japanese won all eight of their games in Group F to advance and the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima boss is now looking to successfully merge his two squads as the country pushes for a seventh straight FIFA World Cup qualification.
AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Difficult IR Iran hurdle for Syria
Tehran: Islamic Republic of Iran will look to build on an air of invincibility at Azadi Stadium when they host Syria on Matchday One of the AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar on Thursday.
Returning to one of Asia's great footballing venues for the first time since October 2019 gives Team Melli the chance to extend an impressive home record which has seen them go unbeaten in competitive matches in Tehran since 2012.
The venue provided the backdrop for away day disappointment for all of Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, China PR and Qatar during the Final Round of Qualifiers for Russia 2018, with Syria the only team to avoid defeat there thanks to the 2-2 draw they achieved after Iran had already qualified.