In a press release dated April 12, the AFC said that host United Arab Emirates, ranked 81st, was given the No. 1 spot in Group 1 to ensure that the team will see action in the opening match on January 5, 2019 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium.
Joining UAE in Pot 1 are Iran (36), defending champion Australia (40), Japan (60), South Korea (61) and Saudi Arabia (70).
China, ranked No. 73, is the No. 1 team in Pot 2, which also has Syria (76), Uzbekistan (88), Iraq (88), Qatar (101) and Thailand (121).
The 12 teams got an automatic bye into the 2019 AFC Asia Cup after qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Final Round in Russia.
Meanwhile, the other 12 teams which qualified through the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers Final Round, were seeded in Pots 3 and 4 based on their respective world rankings.
Kyrgyz Republic, which is the biggest mover in the FIFA rankings after earning 40 points to improve its ranking to No. 75, is in Pot 3 along with Lebanon (82), Palestine (83), Oman (87), India (97) and Vietnam (103).
North Korea (112), the Philippines (113), Bahrain (116), Jordan (117), Yemen (125) and Turkmenistan (129) are in Pot 4.
The draw ceremony will be held on May 4 (7:30 p.m. UAE time) at the Armani Hotel in the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
The 24 teams will be drawn into six groups of four teams, with host UAE given the No. 1 spot in Group A.
The teams in each group will play a single round robin. After the group stage, the top two teams and the four best third team will advance to the round of 16.
The AFC Asian Cup will be held from January 5 to February 1, 2019. (PNA)