AFC announces Asian draw for World Cup 2010

The Asian Football Confederation has unveiled the draw for the first round of regional qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, with Asian Cup champions Iraq along with Afghanistan and Palestine barred from playing home matches for security reasons. “We decided this after due consideration and also after discussing it with FIFA. I think the football authorities in Iraq understand why we made this decision,” AFC Tournament Director and Assistant General Secretary Carlo Nohra told reporters.

The draw created a number of intriguing match-ups, with Iraq to face Pakistan, while sixth-seeded Bahrain will take on Malaysia. The top five teams -- Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran -- have been given a bye into the third round. Of the 19 teams that make it through the first round, the lowest eight battle in the second round for four spots in the third round, while the top 11 move directly into the third round.

The first home-and-away knockout round will take place on 8 October and 28 October while the second round is scheduled for 9 November and 18 November. The draw for the third round will take place in Durban, South Africa, on 25 November 2007. In the third round, the 20 teams are split into five groups of four, with the top two from each group advancing. The 10 remaining teams are split into two groups. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Teams that finish third in each group play a home-and-away playoff and the team winning that playoff confronts the winner of the Oceania FC qualification in a home-and-away playoff to get the "jackpot" spot in the World Cup.

The seedings: 1. Australia 2. South Korea 3. Saudi Arabia 4. Japan 5. Iran 6. Bahrain 7. Uzbekistan 8. Kuwait 9. North Korea 10. China 11. Jordan 12. Iraq 13. Lebanon 14. Oman 15. UAE 16. Qatar 17. Syria 18. Palestine 19. Thailand 20. Turkmenistan 21. Tajikistan 22. Indonesia 23. Hong Kong 24. Yemen 25. Vietnam 26. Kyrgyzstan 27. Maldives 28. India 29. Singapore 30. Sri Lanka 31. Malaysia 32. Taiwan 33. Bangladesh 34. Macau 35. Pakistan 36. Afghanistan 37. Mongolia 38. Guam 39. Nepal 40. Cambodia 41. Bhutan 42. Myanmar 43. East Timor (teams ranked 1-5 receive a bye to the third round).

The pairings for Round 1
1) Pakistan v Iraq
2) Uzbekistan v Taiwan
3) Thailand v Macau
4) Sri Lanka v Qatar
5) China v Myanmar
6) Bhutan v Kuwait
7) Kyrgyzstan v Jordan
8) Vietnam v UAE
9) Bahrain v Malaysia
10) East Timor v Hong Kong
11) Syria v Afghanistan
12) Yemen v Maldives
13) Bangladesh v Tajikistan
14) Mongolia v North Korea
15) Oman v Nepal
16) Palestine v Singapore
17) Lebanon v India
18) Cambodia v Turkmenistan
19) Guam v Indonesia

Round 2:
Eight teams are paired by draw and play one home-and-away knock-out round. Four teams progress to round 3
Match Day 1: 9 Nov 2007
Match Day 2: 18 Nov 2007
or dates to be determined by teams but both matches to be completed by 18th November 2007

Round 3:
Eleven qualifiers from round 1 and four qualifiers from round 2 are joined by five highest ranked countries. These 20 teams are split into 5 groups of 4. First and second in each group qualify to next round
Match Day 1: 6 Feb 2008
Match Day 2: 26 Mar 2008
Match Day 3: 7 Jun 2008
Match Day 4: 14 Jun 2008
Match Day 5: 6 Sep 2008
Match Day 6: 10 Sep 2008

Round 4:
10 remaining teams split into two groups of 5 teams
Teams finishing first and second in each group automatically qualify
Match Day 1: 15 Oct 2008
Match Day 2: 19 Nov 2008
Match Day 3: 11 Feb 2009
Match Day 4: 28 Mar 2009
Match Day 5: 1 Apr 2009
Match Day 6: 6 Jun 2009
Match Day 7: 10 Jun 2009
Match Day 8: 17 Jun 2009
Match Day 9: 5 Sep 2009
Match Day 10: 9 Sep 2009

AFC Playoff:
Teams finishing 3rd in each group from Round 4 play home-and-away playoff
Match Day 1: 10 Oct 2009
Match Day 2: 14 Oct 2009

AFC/OFC Playoff:
Team winning AFC Playoff plays winner of OFC qualification in a home and away playoff
Match Day 1: 14 Nov 2009
Match Day 2: 21 Nov 2009

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