Doha: UAE have been drawn in Group C with Iran, Hong Kong and Palestine in the group stages of the Asian Cup finals in January after the draw was conducted in Doha on Thursday.
Holders and hosts Qatar will take on China, Tajikistan and Lebanon in Group A. Qatar, who won the title for the first time when the tournament was held in the UAE in 2019, will open their defence on January 12 against the Lebanese in Group A.
Pride and honour
“The most important thing is to play good football, to have fun and bring as much pride and honour for the country,” said Qatar coach Carlos Queiroz.
“Football is always about the next step, the next game. The next game is Qatar against Lebanon in this competition and that’s what counts.
“When the games start it will be about one team, one family, one mission and one goal.” Japan, winners of the competition on a record four occasions and who were runners-up four years ago, have been drawn in Group D to face Indonesia, Iraq and Vietnam, currently led by former Japan coach Philippe Troussier.
Korean players excited
Group B will feature 2015 champions Australia alongside Uzbekistan, Syria and India.
South Korea will be looking to claim the title for the first time since 1960 and face Malaysia, Jordan and Bahrain in Group E and Saudi Arabia, who won the most recent of their three titles in 1996, meet Thailand, Kyrgyzstan and Oman in Group F.
“I spoke to a lot of my players, they are all over Europe, they play in the K-League, they play in China, they play in Japan and they’re all very excited,” said South Korea coach Juergen Klinsmann.
“We have a strong team. We look at ourselves in the mirror and say we’re going to go to Qatar to win the tournament.” The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July this year, will run from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10 and is being held in Qatar after original hosts China stood down due to the country’s Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.
Group A: Qatar, China, Tajikistan, Lebanon
Group B: Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, India
Group C: Iran, UAE, Hong Kong, Palestine
Group D: Japan, Indonesia, Iraq, Vietnam
Group E: South Korea, Malaysia, Jordan, Bahrain
Group F: Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Oman
— With inputs from Reuters