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Tue 14 Apr 2015 02:14 PM

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UAE, Saudi Arabia to go head-to-head in 2018 World Cup qualifiers

Gulf teams will also take on Palestine, East Timor, Malaysia in Group A in the draw

UAE, Saudi Arabia to go head-to-head in 2018 World Cup qualifiers
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been drawn together in the second round of regional qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Gulf teams will also take on Palestine, East Timor, Malaysia in Group A in the draw, which was made in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Asian champions Australia drew Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh in the draw, which threw up a series of fascinating matches in the world's most populated and widespread region.

South Korea, runners-up at this year's Asian Cup, fared well, drawn in the same group as Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar and Laos.

Regional heavyweights Japan were drawn in Group E with Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore and Cambodia, while Iran, Asia's top-ranked country, ended up in Group D with Oman, India, Turkmenistan and Guam.

The 40 teams that made the second round were split into eight groups of five. Each country will play home and away against the other sides in their group.

The second round starts in June and runs until March next year.

The eight group winners and the four best runners-up will advance to the next stage of World Cup qualifying in Asia. They will also qualify automatically for the 2019 Asian Cup in United Arab Emirates.

The teams that miss out will go into another phase of Asian Cup qualifiers.

The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which started the first round of qualifiers as the world's worst team, according to FIFA rankings, ended up in the same group as China, Hong Kong, Maldives and Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts.

The draw in full:

Group A: United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, East Timor, Malaysia.

Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh.

Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong.

Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam.

Group E: Japan, Syria, Afghanistan, Singapore, Cambodia.

Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan.

Group G: South Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos.

Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, North Korea, Yemen.

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