Following the conclusion of the Asian Qualifiers Preliminary Round 2 matches on Tuesday, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated the Asian teams on securing their places in the final round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar as well as the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.
With 2022 FIFA World Cup host and current Asian champions Qatar clinching their spot as Group E winners, seven other group winners Australia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Syria and United Arab Emirates as well as the five best second-placed teams – China PR, Iraq, Lebanon, Oman and Vietnam – have all moved one step closer towards qualifying for the global showpiece.
Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate our teams for showcasing incredible quality and consistency to clinch their places in the final round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar as well as the AFC Asian Cup China 2023.”
With 57 matches staged over 19 days across the Continent, the AFC President also applauded the dedication of the Asian football family towards the safe delivery of the qualifying tournament amidst the challenges of the global pandemic.
Shaikh Salman added: “These were extremely exceptional and challenging circumstances. For the first time, we decided to stage the qualifying matches in centralised venues, as part of our unwavering commitment to ensure above all else, the continued safety and wellbeing of our players, teams, officials and all our stakeholders.
“It was a bold but necessary decision under the most difficult circumstances, but through great unity and impeccable coordination, I am pleased to note that our Member Associations delivered on our promise.
“I must thank all our centralised host Member Associations for their incredible commitment as well as all our participating teams for their determination towards completing the matches successfully and safely.
“I am confident that the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar will deliver some captivating moments – a true spectacle which will set the standard for Confederation qualifying tournaments – and I wish the 12 teams the very best of success.”
The attention will now shift to the draw for the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar Final Round, which will be held on July 1, 2021, when Asia’s top 12 contenders will be drawn into two groups of six teams each. The seeding for the draw will be based on a special release of the FIFA Rankings for Asian teams on June 18, 2021.