Asian Cup 2015 Qualifiers Round Up

Wednesday 5th March saw the end of the qualifying fixtures for the Asian Cup in Australia next January. We now have 15 of the eventual 16 finalists (1 more will be decided in the final AFC Challenge Cup tournament this May) and it's a good time to recap things ahead of the finals draw at the Sydney Opera House on 23rd March, after which we'll bring you more in depth thoughts on the groups. Group A - Oman, Jordan, Syria, Singapore Oman & Jordan predictably made it through this group relatively comfortably. Singapore fared worse than their 2011 qualification attempt and that was a little disappointing. Syria could not play any of their games at home, and even though they were in with a shout of 3rd place, I think with home advantage this group may have turned out a little differently.

Group B – Iran, KuwaitLebanon, Thailand

Iran stormed away with this group unbeaten, continuing the resurgence which began in their World Cup qualifying run. The real battle was for second spot which saw Kuwait & Lebanon slug it out – albeit indirectly (they drew both their games 1-1 & 0-0). However, it was the crucial draw at home to Iran that saw Kuwait over the line, with whipping boys Thailand the recipients of 6 losses along with  21 goals conceded. Lebanon were involved in final match day drama in their game away to Thailand. Their fate was tied to that of the Match in Sharjah between Iraq & China in group C. Lebanon require a win and a China loss to Iraq with a 6 goal swing. This actually occurred for a part of the proceedings when Lebanon were 5-1 up on China & Iraq 3-0 up on China, but in a cruel twist of fate, the Chinese were awarded a penalty, whilst the Lebanese conceded again to Thailand, dashing their hopes of a miracle.

Group C – Saudi ArabiaIraq, China, Indonesia

The toughest group on paper proved to be the most hotly contested in the end, it also provided the best 3rd placed team. Saudi continued their upturn in recent form and secured qualification with a couple of games to spare. Whilst China & Iraq toiled. Especially the latter who went into the final match day needing a win to secure qualification. They managed to achieve it, and China also managed to squeeze through, albeit unimpressively (see group B for more).

Group D – BahrainQatar, Yemen, Malaysia

Bahrain & Qatar proved too strong for a Yemen who did not play a single home game & Malaysia. Two more West Asian teams into the hat in a few weeks then, in what was possibly the easiest group to call alongside group E below.

Group E – United Arab Emirates, UzbekistanHong Kong, Vietnam

The United Arab Emirates are possibly the most exciting team in Asia at the moment, the young & vibrant squad positively waltzed through qualification and will be ones to watch. Uzbekistan, after their World Cup disappointment, shook off the blues and marched on to book their ticket in Australia.

The draw for the finals will take place at the Sydney Opera House on 26th March 214, some cracking groups potentially! Join us for coverage on Twitter and on the blog.

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