When the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers Final Round Draw takes place digitally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday, the exhilarating route to Asia's showpiece men's national team competition will come into clear focus. That is when participating nations will know about their opponents.
While 13 teams have already qualified based on their results in the second round of the AFC Asian Qualifiers, including host China PR, the final 11 spots in the decisive Group Stage will be decided in June across all five AFC zones in six host nations – India, Mongolia, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Kuwait, and Uzbekistan.
Six of the 24 teams still vying for a spot in China 2023 have never competed in the AFC Asian Cup before, while Hong Kong and Cambodia will be hoping to qualify for the first time in more than half a century. The winners and five best runners-up of the six centralized qualifying groups will complete the field for the quadrennial showpiece event.
The 24 competing teams will be seeded into five seeding Pots, including the Host MAs Pot, based on FIFA World Rankings as of February 10. To avoid their being put into the same group, the six Host MAs will be removed from their seeding pot and placed in a separate Host Pot, while their final group placements will follow their original draw seeding.
As a result, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and India will be placed first in their Final Round groups, while Kuwait, Malaysia, and Mongolia will be ranked second, third, and fourth in their respective groups. Bahrain, Jordan, and Palestine will play in Pot 1, which includes teams seeded 1-6 excluding the host MAs, while Thailand, Tajikistan, Philippines, Turkmenistan, and Hong Kong will be in Pot 2.
In the meanwhile, Afghanistan, Yemen, Myanmar, the Maldives, and Indonesia will inhabit Pot 3, while Singapore, Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka will round up Pot 4. Following the Host MAs, one team from each Pot will be selected for each group, with the teams from Pot 4 being picked first.
On June 8, 11, and 14, 2022, the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Qualifiers Final Round will be conducted over three Matchdays, with the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 kicking off on June 16, 2023.