London Olympics Qualifier: Pakistan to face Malaysia in opener

Lahore, 31 October : Malaysia  have been pitted against Pakistan in the first round of the  30th Olympic Games football Asian qualifying tournament following the draw in Kuala Lumpur. It will be the first meeting between the two countries at Olympic level with the first leg to be played in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 23 next year and the return leg in Pakistan on March 9.

The tie is one that the national youth team will fancy winning in order to advance to the second knockout round on June 19 and June 23 where Asia’s 13 highest ranked teams will join the 11 winners from round 1. The 12 winners from the second round will be drawn into three groups of four teams each, playing six matches from Sept 21, 2011 to March 14, 2012.

The top team in each group will automatically earn a place in the 2012 London Olympics while the runners-up in each group will then compete in a round-robin playoff group at a neutral venue.The playoff winners will advance to another playoff against the fourth-ranked African team for a berth at London 2012.

Malaysia first qualified for the 1972 Munich Olympics then boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow and have never made it back to the Olympics since.In the qualifiers for the last Olympics in Beijing, Malaysia finished third in the first group stage behind Japan and Syria but ahead of Hong Kong.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has confirmed Asian entries for the qualifying rounds of the 2012 London Olympics Football Tournament to be played in 2011. Thirty-four teams, including Pakistan, will fight it out for three (or four) spots in the men’s competition.

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXX Olympiad, are scheduled to take place in London, United Kingdom, from 27 July to 12 August 2012. London will become the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.

London was elected as the host city on 6 July 2005 during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, defeating Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris after four rounds of voting. The successful bid was headed by former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe.

FIFA has revised continental quotas for Olympic football, allowing an extra seat for either Asia or Africa in the 2012 London Games. “FIFA’s Organizing Committee for the Olympic Football Tournament has decided  to give Asia and Africa each 0.5 seats, as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) decided to yield a seat at the London Olympics,” said Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat who got the historic honor of  adjudicating Disciplinary Cases of World Cup South Africa 2010 as Member of FIFA Disciplinary Committee detailed for this ongoing mega event. Asian and African nations currently compete for three seats, respectively, at the Olympics. Host nations get an automatic seat at the Olympic football events. Under the revised quota system, countries that end fourth in both Asia and African qualifiers are set to compete against each other to advance to the Olympics.

UEFA will have three teams in London in 2012 with that of the host country, CONMEBOL 2, CONCACAF 2 and  Oceania 1. Participating teams in the men’s competition are Australia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, DPR Korea, Korea Republic, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, UAE, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Yemen. Jordan are the notable absentees.

First Round Soccer Matches (Asian Zone) of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games

Thailand vs Palestine
Jordan vs Chinese Taipei
Yemen vs Singapore
Kuwait vs Bangladesh
Pakistan vs Malaysia
UAE vs Sri Lanka
India vs Myanmar
Oman vs Tajikistan
Indonesia vs Turkmenistan
Iran vs Kyrgyzstan
Hong Kong vs Maldives