AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar: Saudi Arabia wary of Vietnam threat
Riyadh: History will count for little when five-time FIFA World Cup participants Saudi Arabia get their Group B campaign in the Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar 2022 against a Vietnam side dreaming of becoming the first ASEAN nation to reach the global stage since the inception of the AFC.
Both sides went into the final matchday of the second round of the Asian Qualifiers in need of a result to seal the top spot of their respective groups.
Saudi Arabia accomplished their task with a 3-0 win over Uzbekistan to top Group D, while Vietnam fell just short with a 3-2 defeat to the UAE, meaning they finished second, but an overall strong run in Group G ensured they progressed as one of the five best runners-up.
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: UAE, Lebanon seek winning starts
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates open their AFC Asian Qualifiers - Road to Qatar Group A campaign against Lebanon, in the first of both sides’ two games in the current international window.
The UAE had passed through the previous stage with flying colours, topping Group G with six wins from eight games while Lebanon just about squeezed through as one of the best runners-up in Group H, having managed a credible draw at home and an unfortunate loss away to Korea Republic on the way, with the two sides facing off once again at this stage of the Qualifiers.
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.