Draw for World Cup, Asian Cup qualifiers to be held July 17

THE Asian qualifiers draw for the 2022 World Cup qualifying round and the 2023 Asian Cup finals will be held on July 17 in Kuala Lumpur, the continental soccer governing body (AFC) said yesterday.

Forty nations will be drawn into eight groups of five teams with seedings based on the latest FIFA world rankings released this month. Teams will face each other home and away, with matches to be held from September 5 to June 9, next year.

Twelve teams – eight group winners and four best runners-up — advance to both the Asian Cup finals to be held in China and the final round of World Cup qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the next best 24 teams will compete in a separate round of qualifiers to fight for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team Asian Cup.

The final team in Pot 5 is yet to be decided after Sri Lanka’s second leg with Macau was cancelled when the team from the former Portuguese colony refused to travel to Colombo citing safety concerns following the Easter Sunday attacks in April.

Macau lead 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg earlier this month.

Pots for the Asian qualifiers: Pot 1: Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China.

Pot 2: Iraq, Uzbekistan, Syria, Oman, Lebanon, Kyrgyz Republic, Vietnam, Jordan

Pot 3: Palestine, India, Bahrain, Thailand, Tajikistan, North Korea, Chinese Taipei, Philippines

Pot 4: Turkmenistan, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Yemen, Afghanistan, Maldives, Kuwait, Malaysia

Pot 5: Indonesia, Singapore, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Guam, Macau/Sri Lanka. – Reuters

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