Qatar draw South Korea and Iran in World Cup qualifying

 12 Apr 2016 - 15:31

Qatar draw South Korea and Iran in World Cup qualifying
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) general secretary Dato Windsor John (C) shows a ballot during the draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Asian Qualifiers Final Round in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 12 April 2016. EPA/STR

Kuala Lumpur: Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, will face Iran and South Korea in Group A as teams were drawn for the final stage of regional qualifying for the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday.
Sleeping giants China, who scraped into the third round after a stop-start qualifying campaign so far, war-torn Syria and Uzbekistan are the other teams in Group A.
Asian champions Australia landed in the same group as heavyweights Japan.
Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos will also face Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and minnows Thailand in Group B when games start in September.
The top two in each group will qualify for the World Cup in Russia, while two third-placed sides will face each other for the right to contest an intercontinental play-off.
Postecoglou told AFP that all the games will be “challenging”, especially with Japan.
“All the games are going to be challenging. We will be playing against Japan. It will be tough,” he said.
“But I am sure we will be ready for it,” he added.
Iran’s highly-regarded Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz predicted South Korea, Japan and Australia would qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
“South Korea, Japan and Australia will go to the World Cup. The last one spot will be fought by Iran, China and Uzbekistan,” he said.
Queiroz said travelling long jouneys on commercial flights would take a toll on his players.
“Besides needing good preparations you need resources like having shorter air travel time for the players,” he said.
Queiroz said playing against China in particular would be difficult and the team was making huge improvements.
“South Korea is very strong and we have Qatar too. We have a complete new team. They are young and talented but no experience,” he said.
Qatar’s head coach Jose Daniel Carreno said he was pleased to be playing in Group A.
“Our goal is to be the best four teams and qualify for the World Cup,” he said.
Qatar’s task will be challenging as they are only the ninth highest ranked team out of the remaining 12, according to FIFA—ahead of Iraq, Syria and Thailand.
Southeast Asia’s only representive Thailand, the lowest-rank team in the qualifyoing finals, has an impossible task ahead.
“It is going to be very difficult for Thailand. They are in a tough group,” David Mitchell, former Australian striker told AFP.  
Group A: Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar, Syria
Group B: Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Thailand