Azkals grouped with South Korea, China, Kyrgyzstan in 2019 AFC Asian Cup

India captain Sunil Chhetri with coach Stephen Constantine

Meanwhile, holders Australia will begin their title defence in Group B, where they will face Syria, Palestine, and Jordan.

On Friday, India were drawn with hosts United Arab Emirates (UAE), Thailand and Bahrain in Group A of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Host nation UAE are drawn in Group A along with Thailand, India and Bahrain, while ASEAN's top side Vietnam are joining Group D with Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

The continental championship will be held across eight stadia in four cities in the UAE - Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain - January 5 to February 1 in 2019.

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The draw for the 24-team event was made in Dubai on Friday with top-seeded Australia facing Syria and Jordan, who they met en route to qualification for the World Cup in Russian Federation, and Palestine in Group B.

Saudi Arabia is one of five teams in the expanded tournament that is focused on the World Cup in Russian Federation.

"In addition to more teams and more opportunities, the AFC wants to reward success". They lost 3-1 or 4-1 to Japan in Japan. Thailand hosted that tournament with only six teams participating. We were really happy to be at the Asian Cup.

With an outstanding generation of talent, a core group of players now with invaluable experience in Asia's leading domestic competition and a wily coach who knows how to navigate his way out of the cut and thrust of tournament play, this is a wonderful opportunity for the Thais to go deep into the latter stages.

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The new trophy was unveiled by Sheikh Salman and former UAE worldwide Zuhair Bakheet during the Final Draw. When the trophy is finally uplifted the trophy plinth separates and contains the rich legacy of previous winners. Two kids are going to official ball carriers in the World Cup, one of the matches will be Brazil vs Costa Rica and the other Panama vs Belgium.

South Korea, runners-up in 2015 and a regular World Cup campaigner, and China are expected to give the Azkals plenty of problems while Kyrgyzstan is also hungry to make a good impression after making the Asian Cup for the first time.

Iran is Asia's top side in the FIFA World Ranking and were also the first team from the Continent to seal a place in the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, confirming their place last June.

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