World champions Japan will go head-to-head with reigning Asian queens Australia in the group stage of next year’s AFC Women’s Championship.
That was the headline outcome of today’s draw for the continental showpiece in Ho Chi Minh, which also placed hosts Vietnam in the same section with the Matildas, the Nadeshiko and west Asian hopefuls Jordan.
Group B, meanwhile, sees Korea Republic take on China PR, Myanmar and Thailand. The South Koreans and Chinese gained direct entry to the competition along with Australia and Japan, with Jordan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam all in place as a result of their performance in preliminary qualifiers.
Reaction was quick in arriving, with Australia coach Hesterine de Reus looking forward eagerly to the challenge ahead. “I think it is a very exciting group with the holders of the Asian cup, the world champions and the host all in one group,” said De Reus.
“I think we have a good draw, playing Japan first, and after that Vietnam and Jordan. I'm happy with having Japan first as the strongest team so we will be totally fit and ready for the start of the tournament.
“After that we have two teams which, on paper, we are the better side, but at the top level easy matches do not exist anymore and they will not be easy opponents.”
The top five finishers at the AFC Women’s Championship will qualify for Canada 2015.