The AFC Asian Cup 2019 Draw is just around the corner and that is when team India will learn their fortune in form of the teams they face in the tournament’s Group Stage starting January 5, 2019 in UAE. This is only the 4th time that India will feature in Asia’s biggest Football tournament, the last three times were 2011, 1984 and way back in 1964.
India qualified for the tournament as group toppers in the Qualification round 3 having won 4 out of their 6 matches. A total of 24 teams will participate in the tournament, which is the first time that the tournament will accommodate so many teams.
The draw will be held in Dubai on May 4 when the 24 qualified teams will be divided into 6 groups of 4 teams each.
The 24 teams will be divided into 6 groups named group A to F containing 4 teams each. Prior to the draw, the teams will be segregated into 4 POTS on the basis of their ranking among AFC nations. A team from each pot will be drawn into a group. This means in each group we will have a team from each of the 4 pots.
The pots will be numbered from 1 to 4. Pot 1 will contain top 6 ranked teams in Asia, Pot 2 will have the next best 6 teams and so on. UAE being the hosts will be put in Pot 1 and be the first team to be drawn in group A and will take the A1 place. The below table shows which teams will be placed in which pot on the basis of their AFC ranking.
Having lost to Kyrgyzstan in their final Qualification match, India lost the chance to be placed in a Pot 2 to avoid the likes of China, Oman in their group stage. However, India will still avoid some top teams like Iraq, Qatar and Uzbekistan, all of which were in contention of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The group stage of the tournament will commence on January 5, 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Top two teams from each group along with 4 best runners-up teams will progress through to the Round of 16s. This brings a golden opportunity for team India to progress to the next stage of the tournament which will only be the first time that they will progress past the group stage of the tournament.
The pots are finalized and the draw will take place on May 4 which will give India its 3 opponents. The draw will be streamed live on AFC’s youtube channel.