Kuala Lumpur: Twelve Asian nations will know their opponents in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 when the official draw is held in the Malaysian capital on Tuesday.
Asia’s 12 lowest ranked sides – India, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Timor Leste, Nepal, Macau, Pakistan, Mongolia, Brunei and Bhutan – will be involved in the draw at AFC House.
The 12 teams (ranked 35th to 46th) are seeded based on the latest FIFA ranking and will be divided into six pairings of two teams. The dozen hopefuls will then play on a home and away format with the games scheduled to take place on March 12 and 17.
The six winners will advance to Round 2 where the 34 highest ranked teams await. The 40 nations will be drawn into eight groups of five teams and compete, yet again, according to a home and away format.
The Round 2 qualification matches will be held from June 11, 2015 to March 29, 2016.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup finals.