Oman clubbed with Qatar, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh
Oman was handed a comparatively easy draw for the second round of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, which was held in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday.
Oman launches its campaign with an away game against India on September 5.
Oman, currently ranked 86th in the latest FIFA ranking, has been clubbed with defending Asian Cup champion and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar (55th), India (101st), Afghanistan (149th) and Bangladesh (183rd) in Group E at Wednesday’s draw, conducted by FIFA director of competitions Christian Unger and Australian football legend Tim Cahill.
The 40 Asian countries were divided into eight groups of five teams each. All the teams in each group will play home-and-away round-robin matches from September 5 to June 9, 2020.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 finals and the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
However, should Qatar win its group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the final round of qualifying for the World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining 12 slots in the 24-team AFC Asian Cup.
Asia's top ranked team Iran is pooled in Group C alongside Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia.
Iran will be aiming for a third consecutive appearance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, having narrowly missed on qualifying for the knockout stage in Russia 2018.
Japan, Asia's best performers in the 2018 FIFA World Cup where it was defeated by Belgium in the round-of-16, was drawn in Group F with Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.
South Korea, which has appeared in every edition of the FIFA World Cup finals since 1986, will have Lebanon, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka in Group H of the Asian Qualifiers.
Saudi Arabia, which defeated Egypt 2-1 to end its 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign on a high, will face Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen and Singapore in Group D. Australia, which became the record fifth Asian team at a World Cup finals after going through the inter-continental playoff to earn a berth in Russia 2018, will go up against Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.
China, the host for the AFC Asian Cup 2023, will have to navigate past Syria, Philippines, Maldives and Guam in Group A for its bid for a second appearance in the FIFA World Cup finals.
Group G had a distinct Southeast Asian flavour as ASEAN rivals Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia were all drawn together, with the UAE completing the cast.
Full schedule of Oman’s matches:
September 5: India* vs Oman
September 10: Oman* vs Afghanistan
October 15: Qatar* vs Oman
November 14: Oman* vs Bangladesh
November 19: Oman* vs India
March 31, 2020: Afghanistan* vs Oman
June 4: Oman* vs Qatar
June 9: Bangladesh* vs Oman
(* host country)
Qatar 2022 World Cup & China 2023 Qualifiers:
Group A: China, Syria, Philippines, Maldives, Guam.
Group B: Australia, Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal.
Group C: Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Hong Kong, Cambodia.
Group D: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Palestine, Yemen, Singapore.
Group E: Bangladesh, Oman, India, Afghanistan, Qatar.
Group F: Japan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Mongolia.
Group E: UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia.
Group F: South Korea, Lebanon, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Sri Lanka.