AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 hosts Australia will face off against two-time continental champions Korea Republic after the draw for next year’s finals was made at the Sydney Opera House on Wednesday evening.
Oman and 1980 winners Kuwait round out Group A of the AFC Asian Cup, with the Australians facing Kuwait in the opening game of the tournament on January 9 at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
Defending champions Japan, who defeated the Australians in the final of the 2011 tournament in Qatar, have been drawn in Group D, where they will take on Jordan, 2007 champions Iraq and the winners of the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup, which will be played in the Maldives in May.
IR Iran, who have won the title on three occasions, head up Group C where they will take part in an all Middle Eastern group also comprising the United Arab Emirates, finalists in 1996, Qatar and Bahrain.
Uzbekistan, semi-finalists in 2011, are the top seeds in Group B, where they meet three-time winners Saudi Arabia, two-time finalists China PR and 2012 AFC Challenge Cup winners DPR Korea.
The tournament will kick off on January 9, with the final to be played at Stadium Australia on January 31.
The Draw was watched by an estimated 40 million people across Asia and featured high quality entertainment including X-Factor winner Dami Im.
Group A: Australia, Korea Republic, Oman, Kuwait
Group B: Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China PR, DPR Korea
Group C: IR Iran, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain
Group D: Japan, Jordan, Iraq, AFC Challenge Cup 2014 winners
Media Releases: Group by Group
Group A: http://www.afcasiancup.com/news/en/group-a–australia-draws-the-toughest-task-of-all/ptxrez9l7wbr1m5ub5k50xkm1
Group B: http://www.afcasiancup.com/news/en/group-b-/ti8ptzzwbp311o1ncp8yqj5vq
Group C: http://www.afcasiancup.com/news/en/group-c-/jijknyfai6n31ltrc8kg14se1
Group D: http://www.afcasiancup.com/news/en/group-d-/hrrmgzzn0bie19j98ejdidm7l
Full Match Schedule: http://www.afcasiancup.com/match-schedule/en/
Group A – Australia, Korea Republic, Oman & Kuwait
Australian Coach Ange Postecoglou: You can create some really special moments and create your own legacy if you can win a tournament in your own country.
Every opponent in our group needs to be respected. The beauty of having a tough group as we do is that if you get through it you know you’re a serious contender in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Korea Republic Coach Hong Myung-bo: As we expected, it’s going to be a tough group, and we will have a tough opponent.
I believe we need to have a better tactic to play against home team because they have a home advantage, but I’ll also need to plan well, how we play against two other teams (Oman and Kuwait), other than the home team is also important.
We are a young team. Our young team has a great opportunity to explore football through FIFA World Cup, so I believe that we have a pretty good chance to have a good result in AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
Oman Coach Paul Le Guen: Obviously it’s a tough group, I think it’s the toughest group of the draw. But we have to cope with that, obviously Australia and Korea will be a challenge, but we will fight to get a qualification.
Everybody will expect the qualification of Australia and Korea, and we will try to create a surprise.
Kuwait Coach Jorvan Vieira: I don’t know why the journalists are worried and say this is the strongest group. All groups, they are strong. In football we decide inside the field, not by maths. I follow my opponents from now on.
Group B – Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, China PR & DPR Korea
China PR Coach Alain Perrin: We are expecting a lot of fans in Australia to support the team. It will be a lit bit as playing at home.
The first game is the most important as we play Saudi Arabia in the first game – it will be the most challenging.
Saudi Arabia Coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro: We knew that all the teams would be difficult … All games of football are complicated.
Our rivals all play to a great quality and have good defence. But we also know that we will have to play at a great level in order to achieve a good result. We must prepare ourselves really well for each game.
Group C – Iraq, UAE, Qatar & Bahrain
Iran Coach Carlos Queiroz: Football is all about pressure, and pressure to win the next game.
I’m sure that after the World Cup the team can have a lift with the preparation and the experience, they will be more strong when they start the Asian competition.
UAE Coach Mahdi Ali: I did not wish to have three [Gulf Cup] nations in the same group to give more chances for them to qualify. A small competition reflecting the big one in Asia.
We have already announced we want to be in the best four teams in Asia and I hope we achieve our goal. We wish to qualify to the semi final.
I think that the UAE have spent a lot of planning for this generation, I think we have a good generation who have played many tournaments.
Qatar Coach Djamel Belmadi: We don’t have any limits; we are here to win the tournament simple as that.I hope we will be strong enough and good enough and believe in ourselves to go as far as possible.
Bahrain Coach Anthony Hudson: We’re going to quietly do what we’re doing. We’re building our team. We’re going to be optimistic and [try] to cause an upset and do something special.
We’re not going to scream and shout too loud but we’re going to work hard and prepare. We’ve certainly come here to go very far.
I think it’s a good group and I think we’ve missed two or three of the big teams were familiar with. We’re happy.
Group D – Japan, Jordan, Iraq & 2014 AFC Challenge Cup winners
Japan Football Association General Secretary Hara Hiromi: We have played both teams (Iraq and Jordan) in the World Cup qualifiers, and both matches were tough so we expect these matches will also be tough.
We will try our best to meet Australia in the final.
Jordan Coach Hossam Hassan: There is some strong teams in this group, we respect Japan they are always strong in these tournaments and Iraq is always a challenge.
We see this tournament as a step-by-step process, it is hard to predict where we will finish but we need to keep a solid standard of football to have the best chance of getting through.
Iraq Captain Younus Mahmood: I think the Iraqi team are a very big team in Asia.
I think my people don’t need any message or anything. We have two games in Brisbane; I think this is no problem for us. Brisbane, Sydney, any city, he [Hakeem Shakir, coach] doesn’t have any problem because he like the national team and he gets behind them, we should [do a] good job here in the Asian Cup here in 2015.