The UAE will have their task cut out as they have been clubbed with Iran, Korean Republic, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon for the third and final round of Qatar 2022 qualifiers as well as the Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers. ‘The Whites,’ under seasoned Dutch Bert van Marwijk, met the expectations with an inspired performance in the second round as they finished second to Vietnam in Doha in May-June to make it to the final hurdle.
Group B, meanwhile, wears a stronger look with top seed Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, Oman and Vietnam. The draw took place at Kuala Lumpur, the headquarters of Asian Football Confederation, on Thursday.
The matches are scheduled to be played on September 2 and 7, October 7 and 12, November 11 and 16, 2021, as well as January 27 and February 1, March 24 and 29, 2022.
The respective group winners and runners-up will directly qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the third-placed teams will advance to the Asian playoff to determine the side that will advance to the intercontinental play-off.
Altogether 12 teams from the second round have qualified for the third round of the qualifiers. Seven group toppers from eight groups (Qatar will not play the third round as they are the host country) and five best runners-up teams qualified from the second round.
Based on the special Fifa ranking released for Asian teams on June 18, top seeds Japan and Iran were placed in Pot 1 of the draw, with Pot 2 comprising Australia and South Korea while Pot 3 had Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Pot 4 contained Iraq and China PR, followed by Oman and Syria in Pot 5 and debutants Vietnam and Lebanon in Pot 6.