Baghdad The 12 teams were drawn into two groups with Japan, the continent's top team in the FIFA World Ranking, drawn in Group B while second-ranked Islamic Republic of Iran were drawn in Group A.
Iran, with five previous appearances at the global showpiece, will have Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon for company in Group A.
Japan, seeking a seventh consecutive appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals, were joined in Group B by Australia, Saudi Arabia, China PR, Oman and Vietnam.
Both groups promise to be sizzling affairs with Iran having to contend with a Korea Republic side seeking an 11th appearance at the FIFA World Cup Finals. UAE and Iraq have made the Finals once each while Syria and Lebanon will be seeking maiden appearances.
Group B promises to be equally thrilling with Australia and Saudi Arabia both having made the Finals five times previously and China once. Oman and Vietnam have never qualified for the global showpiece.
The respective group winners and runners-up will seal their places for the global showpiece, while the third-placed teams will advance to the Asian playoff to determine the side that will advance to the intercontinental playoff.
Based on the special FIFA Ranking released for Asian teams on June 18, top seeds Japan and the Iran were placed in Pot 1 of the draw, with Pot 2 comprising Australia and Korea Republic while Pot 3 had Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Pot 4 contained Iraq and China PR, followed by Oman and Syria in Pot 5 and debutants Vietnam and Lebanon in Pot 6.
The AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar is scheduled to be played on the following 10 match days: September 2 and 7, October 7 and 12, and November 11 and 16, 2021, as well as January 27 and February 1, 2022, before reaching its climax on March 24 and 29, 2022.
Group A: Islamic Republic of Iran, Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon
Group B: Japan, Australia, Saudi Arabia, China PR, Oman, Vietnam.
Source: National Iraqi News Agency