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S. Korea get modest draw in final Asian qualification round for 2018 World Cup

All News 18:28 April 12, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea have drawn modest counterparts in the final Asian qualification round for the 2018 FIFA World Cup as they try to reach the sport's premium competition for the ninth consecutive time.

In the draw held Tuesday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the 56th-ranked South Korea were paired with Iran (42nd), Uzbekistan (66th), China (81st), Qatar (83rd) and Syria (110th) in Group A.

Eight countries have qualified for the final round by virtue of finishing as group winners from the second qualifying round, along with four best second-place teams. Group B features Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq and Thailand. They will play home-and-away under a round-robin format.

The 12 qualifiers from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) were seeded based on the latest FIFA rankings, which were released last Thursday. Iran at No. 42 and Australia at No. 50 were the top two-ranked qualifiers and were placed in the first pot. South Korea at 56th and the 57th-ranked Japan were the next two among qualifiers and were put in the second pot, thus ensuring they would not be paired in the same group.

South Korea will start the final round on Sept. 1 against China at home and will end the campaign on Sept. 5 next year at Uzbekistan.

The winner and runner-up of each group will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The two third-placed teams will face each other over two matches, and the winner will take on the fourth-placed team from the fifth round of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) qualifiers in a two-legged inter-confederation playoff for the final chance to make the World Cup.

South Korea have played in every World Cup since 1986, and they were semifinalists at the 2002 competition as a co-host with Japan.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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