Kuala Lumpur, April 11 (IANS) Twelve nations will learn who their opponents are for the 2018 World Cup Asian qualifiers final round when the official draw takes place here on Tuesday.
In an article titled “Asian dozen dreaming of Russia” released on its official website, world football’s governing body FIFA said on Tuesday, “Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is reaching its final throes in Asia and just 12 nations from the world’s most populous continent remain in the hunt for a spot at the global extravaganza that will kick off in just over two years’ time”, reports Xinhua news agency.
Eight Asian Football Confederation (AFC) member associations have qualified for the final round of qualifiers by virtue of finishing as group winners from preliminary joint qualification Round 2 with another four also qualifying as the four best second-placed teams.
They will be drawn into two groups of six teams to play home-and-away matches under the round-robin format. The 12 nations, seeded based on the latest FIFA rankings released on April 7, will be drawn from six country pots as follows:
Pot 1: Iran (42nd), Australia (50th)
Pot 2: South Korea (56th), Japan (57th)
Pot 3: Saudi Arabia (60th), Uzbekistan (66th)
Pot 4: United Arab Emirates (68th), China PR (81st)
Pot 5: Qatar (83rd), Iraq (105th)
Pot 6: Syria (110th), Thailand (119th)
According to the AFC, the winner and runner-up of each group (four teams in total) will qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia while the third-placed teams of each group (two teams in total) will advance to the 2018 World Cup Asian play-off round.