Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is reaching its final throes in Asia and just 12 nations from the world's most populous continent remain in the hunt for a spot at the global extravaganza that will kick off in just over two years' time.
Those 12 countries, namely Australia, China PR, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Korea Republic, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan, are eagerly anticipating the draw for Round 3 of World Cup qualifying in Asia, which is due to take place in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday 12 April, kicking off at 16.30 local time (10.30 CEST).
The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of Thursday 7 April will determine the six pots for the draw with Pot 1 having the teams ranked 1 and 2 in Asia (of the remaining teams), pot 2 the teams ranked 3 and 4 and so on until pot 6 containing the teams ranked 11 and 12. This means the pots are as follows:
*Pot 1: *Iran, Australia
*Pot 2: *Korea Republic, Japan
*Pot 3: *Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan
*Pot 4: *United Arab Emirates, China PR
*Pot 5: *Qatar, Iraq
*Pot 6: *Syria, Thailand
The 12 sides will be drawn into Groups A and B, with one side from each pot making up each group.
23 World Cup matches and six finals goals spanning five tournaments is the vast level of experience that will lend a guiding hand to proceedings on Tuesday, as Korea Republic hero Park Jisung will take to the stage to help conduct the draw. "World Cup appearances are the dream of every player and I know that all 12 squads will be determined to make it to Russia in 2018," Park said.
The first matches in Round 3 will take place in September 2016, with the group stage concluding a year later. The top two teams in each group will progress automatically to Russia 2018, with the two third-placed sides advancing to Round 4 for a chance to reach the CONCACAF-Asian Zone play-off for a spot at the global finals.