Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 September 2019

UAE to discover 2022 World Cup qualifying draw next month

National team will reach the final round of qualifying, as well as earn a place in the 2023 Asian Cup, if they finish as one of the top 12 teams

Ali Mabkhout and his UAE teammates will soon discover who they are up against in the 2022 World Cup qualifying rounds. AP Photo
Ali Mabkhout and his UAE teammates will soon discover who they are up against in the 2022 World Cup qualifying rounds. AP Photo

The UAE will discover their group for the 2022 World Cup qualifying round and the 2023 Asian Cup when the draw is made in Kuala Lumpur on July 17, the Asian Football Condeferation (AFC) said on Monday.

Forty nations will be drawn into eight groups of five teams with seedings based on the latest Fifa world rankings released this month. Teams will face each other home and away, with matches to be held from September 5 to June 9 next year.

Twelve teams - eight group winners and four best runners-up - advance to both the Asian Cup, to be held in China, and the final round of World Cup qualifiers.

Meanwhile, the next best 24 teams will compete in a separate round of qualifiers to fight for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team Asian Cup.

The final team in Pot 5 is yet to be decided after Sri Lanka's second leg with Macau was cancelled when the team from the former Portuguese colony refused to travel to Colombo citing safety concerns following the Easter Sunday attacks in April. Macau lead 1-0 on aggregate after the first leg earlier this month.

The UAE, currently ranked No 67 by Fifa and the sixth-highest AFC national team, are placed in Pot 1 alongside Iran, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and China.

The national team reached the third round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, but placed fourth in Group B as the top two - Japan and Saudi Arabia - advanced to the finals in Russia. Meanwhile, third-placed Australia also reached the World Cup after coming through two more play-off ties.

The UAE's most recent Asian Cup effort came on home soil at the start of this year when they reached the semi-finals.

They begin their bid to reach only their second World Cup finals, and first since 1990, with a new manager in charge after Dutchman Bert van Marwijk succeeded Italian Alberto Zaccheroni in March.

Van Marwijk, 67, has a wealth of World Cup experience having led Saudi Arabia to the 2018 tournament after a 12-year absence, and while he was relieved of his duties after qualification was secured, he took charge of Australia on a short-term contract during the finals in Russia.

Van Marwijk also led the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, where they lost to Spain, during his four-year spell as manager.

Updated: June 17, 2019 04:12 PM

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