KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The first steps on the road to the next World Cup were taken on Wednesday when the Asian Football Confederation held a draw for the first round of qualifying for Qatar 2022.
Twelve of Asia’s lowest-ranked teams will face each other home and away on June 6 and 11.
The six winners will progress to the second round in September, grouped with powerhouses such as Japan, Australia, South Korea and Iran.
Malaysia, the highest-ranked team in the first round at 168th in the world according to FIFA, will face East Timor, while Cambodia, coached part-time by former Japan international Keisuke Honda, meets Pakistan.
In the other games, Laos hosts Bangladesh, Bhutan faces Guam while Mongolia takes on Brunei. Sri Lanka, Asia’s lowest-ranked team at 202, meets Macau.
The second round of qualification starts in September with 40 teams divided into eight groups of five.
The winner and the four best second-place teams will progress to the next stage and will also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup that will be held either in China or South Korea.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports