Kuala Lumpur: The seeding for the eagerly-anticipated draw for the most prestigious competition on the Continent, the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019, which will take place on May 4, 2018, 7:30pm (UAE time), in Dubai has now been confirmed following Thursday's release of the latest FIFA World Ranking.
In line with previous editions of the AFC Asian Cup, the hosts United Arab Emirates have been allocated the first position in pot one in the draw to be held at the Armani Hotel in the UAE’s iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. This will ensure they will play the opening match on January 5, 2019, at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
The 12 teams, who received an automatic bye into the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 after qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 - Asian Qualifiers Final Round, have already secured their places in pots one and two and have been allocated spots following Thursday’s publication of the latest FIFA ranking.
Meanwhile, the 12 teams who qualified from the recently concluded AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 Qualifiers Final Round have been seeded in pots three and four and positioned accordingly based on the same rankings.
This means the hosts UAE along with Islamic Republic of Iran, defending champions Australia, and the tournament’s most successful nation, Japan as well as Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia will take pole position in pot one, while China PR, Syria, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Qatar and Thailand have been seeded in pot two.
Debutants Kyrgyz Republic, who were the biggest movers in world football in the FIFA Ranking - up an astonishing 40 places - take their place in pot three alongside Lebanon, Palestine, Oman, India and Vietnam. Meanwhile DPR Korea, Philippines, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Turkmenistan make up the final six teams in the final pot.
The expansion from 16 to 24 teams will see countries representing all five AFC zones divided into six groups of four teams each, with the top two and four best third-placed teams advancing into the final 16 of the competition, which lives up to its slogan of “Bringing Asia Together.”