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Asia’s futsal challengers found out who their groups are following the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022 Qualifiers virtual draw ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Thursday.
With host nation Kuwait already assured of a place in the tournament, the 30 participating Member Associations (MAs) were divided into the East and West Zones while the Central and South Zones were combined.
For the combined Central and South Zones, 12-time champions the Islamic Republic of Iran were drawn in Group A:
- Kyrgyz Republic
- Four-time runners-up Uzbekistan
In the East Zone, three-time champions Japan in Group A with:
- China PR
- Chinese Taipei
- Korea Republic
- Hong Kong
The matches will be played between April 1-15, 2022 with UAE hosting the West Zone, the-afc.com reported. In the West Zone, Iraq – who finished fourth in 2018 were drawn in Group B and will have:
- United Arab Emirates
- Saudi Arabia
- and newcomers Oman
The ASEAN Zone was not drawn as the AFF Futsal Championship will serve as the qualifying competition for the AFC Futsal Asian Cup 2022. The six group winners – two each from East, West, and the combined Central and South Zones – will advance to the Finals. They will be joined by the respective group runners-up from the Central and South Zones. The third team from the East Zone will be decided through a playoff. The respective runners-up from the West Zone will also qualify with the fifth spot to be decided via a playoff between the third-placed teams from the two groups. The Central & South Zone Qualifiers will be played in Kyrgyz Republic while the UAE will host the West Zone Qualifiers. The host for the East Zone will be announced in due course.
The nations who have dominated the AFC Asian Futsal Cup are:
- Iran – 12 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze – Total = 15
- Japan – 3 Gold, 6 Silver, 2 Bronze – Total = 11
- Uzbekistan – 0 Gold, 4 Silver, 4 Bronze – Total = 8
- Thailand – 0 Gold, 2 Silver, 5 Bronze – Total = 7
- Kazakhstan – 0 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze – Total = 2
- South Korea – 0 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze – Total = 2
- Kyrgyzstan – 0 Gold, 0 Silver, 1 Bronze – Total = 1
Fourth placed nations
- China – Total =2
- Kuwait – Total = 2
- Australia – Total = 1
- Vietnam – Total = 1
- Iraq – Total = 1
For the last 3 competitions Iran’s Ali Asghar Hassanzadeh has been voted the most valuable player. The 2022 edition will be the 17th for the biennial championship. Kuwait was originally appointed as hosts of the 2020 championship. However that tournament was pushed back into 2021 before being rearranged a second time. The 16 team finals will now take place between 25 September and 20 October 2022. Iran are the defending champions, having won the title in 2018. AFC nations have traditionally performed well at the elite level futsal. At the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021, all five Asian teams – the Islamic Republic of Iran, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Japan – reached the Knockout Stage.
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