A little over a week after Asia's third qualifying round came to a close, the ten qualified teams learned the obstacles they have to overcome to seal one of the continent's four automatic spots at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ when the final-round draw took place at AFC House on Friday 9 March.
Predictably, some enticing contests were thrown up, with Group A pitting Korea Republic against Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar and Lebanon, and Group B offering Asian champions Japan the challenge of battling for places with Australia, Iraq, Jordan and Oman.
The draw itself was conducted by Windsor John, the Executive Director of Competitions of AFC, assisted by Iranian legend Mehdi Mahdavikia and Tsuneyasu Miyamoto of Japan. "This is is indeed a great moment," said Mahdavikia. "I played in two World Cups and I know clearly what excitement this global event can bring about."
Also featuring predominantly at the event, of course, were the managers who have successfully guided their respective sides through the fiercely-contested third stage. Iran coach Carlos Queiroz and Iraq boss Zico were those present among the dignitaries. Meanwhile, Jordan manager Adnan Hamad and Lebanon coach Theodor Bucker were in attendance after having made history with their teams by reaching this stage of the qualifying campaign.
Also in attendance was five-time FIFA World Cup™ coach Bora Milutinovic, who was among the Qatari delegates, plus Iranian legend Mehdi Mahdavikia and Tsuneyasu Miyamoto of Japan, both of whom represented their country at the global showpiece.
The seeding for the draw was based on March’s FIFA/Coca Cola World Ranking, with Australia leading the Asian elite. The ten teams were divided into two groups of five, who will battle against each in a lengthy competition which runs for a whole year between 3 June 2012 and 18 June 2013.
The top two finishers of each section will progress automatically to represent Asia at Brazil 2014, while the two third-placed sides will meet in a two-legged play-off on 6 and 10 September 2013 respectively, with the winners facing the fifth-placed side from South America in a two-legged play-off for a place at the finals.
Final round draw results
Group A: Korea Republic, Iran, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Lebanon
Group B: Australia, Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Japan*
* Japan was placed in Position 5 in Group B in order to avoid them playing on 18 June 2013, when they will be participating in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, as per the decision by AFC Executive Committee on 17 March 2011.
Seeding for the final round
2. Korea Republic
A full list of fixtures can be found by clicking on the link on the right