The draw for 2018 World Cup/2019 Asian Cup joint qualifying took place on Tuesday evening in Kuala Lumpur, with an unprecedented variety in store for fans of Asian football.
2019 hosts UAE will be meeting regional foes after landing in Group A along with Saudi Arabia and Palestine, with Timor-Leste and Malaysia representing Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, defending Asian Cup champions Australia can expect to accumulate plenty of frequent flyer miles after landing in Group B with Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Bangladesh.
Former bottom-ranked FIFA nation Bhutan can look forward to a match against China along with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, Maldives, and Hong Kong.
Carlos Queiroz and Iran have been handed a group representing Asia’s diversity, including Oman, India, Turkmenistan, and Guam.
East Asian titans Japan will open their campaign at Singapore on June 16, with Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Syria also in the offering.
2015 Asian Cup semi-finalists Iraq were handed a slate of Southeast Asian opponents including Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and East Asian representatives Chinese Taipei.
The Taeguk Warriors of South Korea will travel west, to face Myanmar, Laos, Lebanon, and Kuwait.
In the final group, Uzbekistan will face off against Bahrain, Philippines, North Korea, and Yemen.
Eight group winners and the four best second-place teams will advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying, which is scheduled to begin later in 2016.
GROUPS FOR 2018 WCQ/2019 ACQ JOINT QUALIFYING
Group A – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor-Leste, Malaysia
Group B – Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh
Group C – China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong
Group D – Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam
Group E – Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia
Group F – Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei
Group G – South Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos
Group H – Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, North Korea, Yemen