(MENAFN- The Peninsula) By Rizwan Rehmat I The Peninsula
DUBAI: Qatar were drawn with neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and North Korea in Group E of next year's Asian Cup to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Coached by Felix Sanchez, Qatar are one of the 24 teams that will feature in the biggest tournament for national teams in Asia.
One of the top matches at the 2019 Asian Cup will see Qatar locking horns with World Cup-bound Saudi Arabia.
The two famously played the final of the 2014 Gulf Cup in which Qatar edged the hosts in the final.
Saudi Arabia, who have won the AFC Asian Cup three times, will be looking forward to returning to the UAE, the place where they defeated the hosts on penalties in the 1996 final.
Qatar, hosts of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, staged the region's premier football event in Doha in 2011 when Japan emerged as the champions of Asia. Qatar also hosted the event in 1988.
Yesterday's draw ceremony was conducted in Dubai in the presence of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and the entire football fraternity that also included the coaches of the teams featuring at the Jan 5-Feb 1 tournament.
Continental giants and defending champions Australia were drawn in Group B with Syria, Palestine and Jordan while hosts UAE - who finished third in the 2015 edition - were placed in Group A with Thailand, India and Bahrain.
Group C will be shared by 2002 FIFA World Cup semi-finalists Korea Republic, China PR, Kyrgyzstan and the Philippines.
Iran, who will appear at next month's 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, headline Group D with 2007 champions Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen. Iran also have won the AFC Asian Cup three times.
Group F has Japan as the top side along with Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan. Oman won the Gulf Cup at the end of December last year in Kuwait. Japan are four-time winners in Asia.
Next year it will be the first time that 24 teams will feature in the tournament that will be played over 28 days.
Organisers confirmed that hosts UAE will kick-off Asia's most prestigious tournament against Bahrain at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi on January 5.
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