Australia’s Socceroos drawn against Syria, Jordan and Palestine for 2019 Asian Cup
The Socceroos had to battle past Syria to progress to the World Cup qualifying intercontinental play-off, last time out. (AAP: David Moir)
Graham Arnold’s Socceroos will face familiar foes in their defence of the Asian Cup at next year’s tournament in the United Arab Emirates.
Asian Cup 2019: Group B
The draw for the 24-team event was made in Dubai on Friday with top-seeded Australia facing Syria and Jordan, who they met en route to qualification for the World Cup in Russia, and Palestine in Group B.
Jordan inflicted a 2-0 defeat on the Socceroos in 2015 with Syria proving to be stubborn opponents in the inter-continental play-off in Sydney when Tim Cahill pounced in extra-time to seal a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Arnold will take over from Bert van Marwijk after the World Cup in what will be his second Asian Cup in charge, having led the team in their disappointing 2007 campaign.
By being seeded, the Socceroos avoided regional powerhouses Japan, South Korea and Iran and also dodged China and Iraq who along with Syria were seeded second.
The Socceroos will be looking to defend the Asian Cup title they won on home soil back in 2015. (AAP: Dean Lewins)
The competition has been expanded to 24 nations and will see the Philippines, Yemen and Kyrgyzstan make their debuts.
Turkmenistan are the lowest-ranked side, with an official ranking of 129 while, at 36, Iran edges world-number-40 Australia to be the highest-ranked Asian nation.
The Asian Cup takes place in seven stadiums in four UAE cities from January 5 next year.
The Asian Football Confederation has introduced a prize fund of $US15 million ($20 million) for the tournament, with the champions picking up $US5 million and the runners-up earning $US3 million.
Asian Cup draw:
- Group A: United Arab Emirates, Thailand, India, Bahrain
- Group B: Australia, Syria, Palestine, Jordan
- Group C: South Korea, China, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines
- Group D: Iran, Iraq, Vietnam, Yemen
- Group E: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Lebanon, North Korea
Group F: Japan, Uzbekistan, Oman, Turkmenistan