ABU DHABI // Less than a week after learning who they will face in the final round of qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, the UAE will today discover their opponents in the final round of qualifying for the AFC Asian Cup in 2011. Teams will be divided into five qualifying groups with the top two sides from each joining the hosts Qatar, the 2007 AFC Asian Cup champions Iraq, runners-up Saudi Arabia and third-placed South Korea in the finals. The winners of the AFC Challenge Cup this year, and in 2010, will also earn a place.
Bruno Metsu's UAE are in Pot Two with Thailand, Indonesia, Bahrain and China. They will hope to avoid Australia and Japan, who have won the tournament three times, from Pot One with Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Iran, who beat the UAE in Al Ain last month, ranked as the other top seeds. The seedings for the draw are based on results at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, with the five lowest-ranked sides being drawn first from Pot Four. It includes Lebanon, this year's AFC Challenge Cup hosts India, Singapore, Yemen and Kuwait, who have twice reached the Asian Cup final. Pot Three consists of Malaysia, Hong Kong, Oman, Jordan and Syria, who failed to reach the final round of World Cup qualifying section despite beating the UAE 3-1 in their final group game.
Qatar will host the finals, and the president of the AFC Mohamed bin Hammam will draw the 20 teams at the ASPIRE Academy in Doha, beginning at 1pm. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org