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The always engrossing Asian region was the 2nd continent to be drawn in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Draw following Africa. The resulting draw sees some of the biggest names pitted against each other, especially in Group E, where three of the Middle-East's biggest teams, Iran, Qatar and Bahrain, will fight it out along with Indonesia for the two spots into the next round. Australia have a fairly easy group involving Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand, with the games between the Aussies and Saudi Arabian's more or less set to decide the top two positions. Japan have a lot of travelling to do as they face Uzbekistan and Syria in Group C, with the presence of North Korea making things all the more interesting.
South Korea have a strong record in recent years and they are unlikely to face too many issues navigatibg past UAE, Lebanon and Kuwait. Group A is wide open as China, Iraq, Singapore and Jordan fght for the two places. On top of the big matches to look forward to has to be the clash between Japan and North Korea, especially with so much sporting and political tension.
Australia and Sadui Arabia also promises to be an entertaining encounter, though lacking in intense rivalry the quality of the two sides should deliver great games. The game between Iran and Qatar also has the makings of a good one, especially with Qatar rising to prominence since their successful bid to host the World Cup. So, Iran will be keen to showcase that footballing talent can come through and with Bahrain also in the mix, we can expect six enthralling games in total.
Asia has a maximum of 5 spots available for qualification with 4 of those coming directly through the qualifiers and one through a play-off with a South American nation. The five 'Asian' teams that topped the qualifying process for the 2010 FIFA World Cup - Australia, Japan, South Korea, North Korea and Bahrain were awarded byes for the preliminary rounds and 15 additional teams have joined them through two rounds of qualifying.
These 20 teams were divided into five groups of four on Saturday evening with the top two sides from each groups advancing to the final qualifying round.
Asia's Five Groups are as follows:
A - China, Jordan, Iraq, Singapore
B - South Korea, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon
C - Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria, North Korea
D - Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand
E - Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia
The 10 remaining teams will again be divided into two groups of five, with the winners and the runners-up from each group qualifying for the World Cup. The third-placed teams from each group will face each other in a knock-out tie, with the winner facing a team from South America in the Intercontinental play-offs.
Read Also: 2014 World Cup Draw: CONCACAF
Photos by 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa
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