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Tough draw for Iran and Saudi, while Japan have it easy: Asian Qualifiers for 2008 Beijing Olympics
16 September 2006


SINGAPORE: Top seed Iraq have been bracketed with East Asian powerhouse DPR Korea and the winners of the preliminary round matches between Turkmenistan-Thailand and Myanmar-India in Group E after the keenly awaited draw for the Asian qualifying (second) round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics was held here on Saturday.


The qualifying format sees the 20 lowest ranked teams having to clear the preliminary round hurdle before joining the top 14 seeds, who are exempt from the preliminary round, in the second round qualifying.


The 24-team second round qualifying, which has been split into six groups of four each, runs through February 28 to June 6, 2007, with the top two teams in each group advancing to the Final round which will be played in three groups of four teams each.


The Final home-and-away round will be held from August 22 till November 21, 2007, with the three group winners representing Asia at the Beijing Olympic Games. China have automatic qualification as hosts.


Second seed Korea Republic found themselves in the tricky Group F with UAE and the winners of the preliminary round encounters between Central Asian teams Uzbekistan-Tajikistan and the West Asian pairing of Yemen-Palestine.


Group D turned out to be the toughest of the six with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Kyrgyzstan, Australia or Chinese Taipei in contention for the top two places.


Japan had the easiest draw on paper after being slotted alongside Malaysia, Syria, Hong Kong-Bangladesh in Group B, while Group A was packed with three West Asian teams Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar, with Singapore or Pakistan coming through the preliminary round to join them.


Oman, Lebanon, Vietnam-Afghanistan, Indonesia-Maldives will fight it out in Group C.


The identity of the preliminary round winners will be clear after the two-legged knockout stage on February 7 and February 14, 2007.


SECOND ROUND GROUPING

Group A: Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Singapore or Pakistan

Group B: Japan, Malaysia, Syria, Hong Kong or Bangladesh

Group C: Oman, Lebanon, Vietnam or Afghanistan, Indonesia or Maldives

Group D: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Kyrgyzstan, Australia or Chinese Taipei

Group E: Iraq, DPR Korea, Turkmenistan or Thailand, Myanmar or India

Group F: Korea Republic, UAE, Uzbekistan or Tajikistan, Yemen or Palestine


The following teams have qualified directly for the second round: 1) Iraq, 2) Korea Republic, 3) Japan, 4) Bahrain, 5)Iran, 6)Oman, 7)Kuwait, 8)UAE, 9)Saudi Arabia, 10) Lebanon, 11) Malaysia, 12) DPR Korea, 13) Syria, 14) Qatar


The following teams will play in the preliminary round in order to qualify for the second round: Myanmar vs India, Jordan vs Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan vs Thailand, Vietnam vs Afghanistan, Uzbekistan vs Tajikistan, Singapore vs Pakistan, Hong Kong vs Bangladesh, Yemen vs Palestine, Indonesia vs Maldives and Australia vs Chinese Taipei.
 
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