North, South Korea to meet in 2022 World Cup qualifiers

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — North Korea and South Korea have been drawn together in an Asian qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup.

The Korean neighbours will play each other home and away in the five-nation Group H that includes Lebanon, Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.

Saudi Arabia and Yemen were also paired in yesterday’s draw that involved 40 national teams.

The Saudis, who played at the 2018 World Cup, are top-seeded in Group D that also has Uzbekistan, Palestine and Singapore.

Top-ranked Iran were drawn with neighbouring Iraq, plus Bahrain, Hong Kong and Cambodia, in Group C.

United Arab Emirates are top-seeded in a Group G loaded with Southeast Asian derbies, involving Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Australia, who play in the Asian football confederation, will play Jordan, Taiwan, Kuwait and Nepal in Group B.

World Cup host Qatar also play as this group stage doubles up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup being played in China. Qatar will play Oman, India, Afghanistan and Bangladesh in Group E.

China are in Group A with Syria, the Philippines, Maldives and Guam. Japan are in Group F with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.

The eight groups play from September through June 2020.

Group winners and the four best runners-up advance to another group stage, played from September 2020 to October 2021. Those 12 teams also qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.

Four Asian teams will qualify directly for the World Cup. A fifth nation can advance to Qatar in an intercontinental playoff round in March 2022.