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Asia’s best identify opponents for Indonesia 2018

Jakarta: The race for the 40th AFC U-19 Championship title has begun as the top 16 teams in the Continent discovered their opponents, following the official draw in Jakarta on Friday.

Indonesia, who will be hosting the prestigious tournament for the third time and having been crowned champions in 1961, will go up against United Arab Emirates, 2014 champions Qatar and Chinese Taipei in Group A.

Defending champions Japan, who earned their first title in the previous edition, will face Thailand, DPR Korea and Iraq, who have won the title five times in Group B.

Twelve-time champions Korea Republic, suffered heartbreak in 2016 when they narrowly missed out on the Knockout Stage due to goal difference, will be aiming to do better against Vietnam, Australia and Jordan in Group C.

Two-time champions and 2016 runners-up Saudi Arabia are grouped with Tajikistan, 1985 winners China PR and Malaysia in Group D.

The draw ceremony began with a traditional Indonesian performance by dancers from the Liga Tari Mahasiswa Universitas Indonesia Krida Budaya, showcasing local folklore dances and music, before Football Association of Indonesia Acting President Joko Driyono gave his opening remarks.

“We hope that the tournament which will take place in Jakarta in October will show the very best of youth football and escalate the level of football across Asia,” said Driyono.

“To all participating teams, I wish you the best.” The tournament kicks off on October 18, but there is more than just the AFC U-19 Championship title on the line, as the top four teams will also secure their spots in the FIFA U-20 World Cup next year in Poland.