India are drawn in Group A

India are drawn in Group A

The first match featuring Molten balls will kick off on January 5, 2019 at the opening match of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 - an event that enjoys a television reach of more than two billion people.

Coach Felix Sanchez is confident his players can put the diplomatic dispute between Qatar and neighbouring Saudi Arabia aside and focus on their performance after the two countries were drawn to face one another at next year's Asian Cup. Kyrgyzstan and China are ranked 75 and 73 in the FIFA World Rankings while South Korea are head and shoulders above the trio at 61.

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The expanded tournament will see 24 teams battle it out for a five million dollar top prize along with a brand new trophy, which was also unveiled at the draw on Friday. In the preliminary stages of World Cup qualification, Thailand bested Asian powerhouse Iraq to finish top of the group, holding them to two draws.

The Suzuki Cup is set November 8 under a home-and-away format.

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Bahrain were drawn to take on hosts UAE, Thailand and India in Group A at the Asian Cup finals to be held next year. Skipper Sunil Chhetri was on the stage while coach Stephen Constantine was in attendance as India, who were in Pot 3, were drawn in Group A. They will take on Thailand in their opening game of the tournament.

The Saudis have won the continental championship three times, but their last success was in 1996 when the event was hosted by the UAE. The last time was in 2011 when they found themselves in the same group as Australia, South Korea and Bahrain and lost all three games, conceding 13 goals. Prior to that the Philippines bowed to Kyrgyz Republic 0-5 in a 2004 AFC World Cup qualifier. The tournament, for the first time, will have 24 teams in the final stages.

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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 chose to commission a new trophy, one that captures the excitement and drama of the tournament ahead".

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