(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Qatar have been placed in Group E along with North Korea, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia for the next year's AFC Asian Cup to be held at the United Arab Emirates.
The draw was held yesterday in Dubai. The tournament will kick off on January 5 with the final to be played in Abu Dhabi on February 1. Qatar will appear in their sixth successive Asian Cup and had reached the quarter-finals as hosts in 2011.
Defending champions Australia will renew their rivalry with Syria after being drawn alongside the Middle Eastern nation. The two nations faced off in a tense World Cup playoff in September, with the Australians narrowly advancing, and both will also meet Palestine and 2004 and 2011 quarter-finalists Jordan in Group B at the 2019 event.
Continent powerhouses and 2015 finalists Korea Republic, who are on the hunt for their first title since 1960, were drawn in Group C with two-time runners-up China PR as well as two debutants in the UAE 2019 Kyrgyz Republic and Philippines.
Asia's best ranked side, Iran who are looking to secure their fourth title and their first since 1976, were drawn in Group D alongside 2007 winners Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen, who will be appearing in their first tournament since their unification.
The tournament's most successful side with four titles, Japan are in Group F and will face Uzbekistan, who have progressed past the group stage for the last four editions of the competition as well as Oman and Turkmenistan.
Hosts the United Arab Emirates, coached by Alberto Zaccheroni, were drawn to take on Thailand, India and Bahrain in Group A.
The Asian Football Confederation has introduced a prize fund of $15 million for the tournament, with the champions picking up $5 million and the runners-up earning $3 million.
The Zayed Sports City Stadium will also host the final on February 1, 2019 after 28 days of enthralling action with the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nahyan Stadium hosting the remaining matches in Abu Dhabi.
Hazza bin Zayed Stadium and the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium will host the matches in Al Ain and Sharjah Stadium in the Emirate of Sharjah. Al Maktoum Stadium and Al Rashid Stadium are the two venues in Dubai.
Dazzling new AFC Asian
Cup trophy unveiled
Meanwhile, the new trophy was unveiled by Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifah yesterday.
Designed and made by world renowned silversmiths Thomas Lyte of London, the new trophy eloquently communicates the powerful spirit of football's second oldest continental football competition.
Thomas Lyte craftsmen have designed and made globally some of the most iconic sporting trophies and the new AFC Asian Cup took these makers over 450 hours to craft, passing through the hands of 12 different craftsmen.
AFC President Shaikh Salman said: 'Since 1956 we have had the same trophy and in keeping with the new and exciting future of the competition, the AFC decided to commission a new trophy, one that captures the excitement and drama of the tournament ahead.
'The AFC has trusted Thomas Lyte for all of our trophy designs since 1997 and I am happy to see this relationship flourish with this magnificent trophy which is fitting of the crowning jewel of the AFC's competitions. The new trophy is revolutionary in design and stands at an impressive 78cm high and 42cm wide and is crafted from 15 kilogrammes of Hallmarked Sterling Silver bullion. When the trophy is finally uplifted the trophy plinth separates and contains the rich legacy of previous winners.
Kevin Baker, CEO and Founder of Thomas Lyte, said: 'We were honoured to design and craft such a landmark trophy in sport and football. The new trophy depicts the five regions of the AFC organically entwined in harmony and competition.
'While new craft techniques were developed, this modernist new design employed traditional silversmithing skills, including 230 hours of hammering flat sheets of silver into this organic shape.