The Indian national team will face the UAE in the 2014 FIA World Cup qualifiers today and Indian football fans hope our team can pull a surprise win against the Arabs. But what will happen, if we beat the UAE today? Will we qualify for the World Cup in Brazil? I would like to explain you the qualifier format to answer your questions on the road to Brazil…
The way to the 2014 FIFA World Cup is a long and exciting competition, which will see 43 Asian countries (out of 46 member associations) competing in the AFC Asian Zone Qualifiers. Asia may seize 4.5 competition slots in the World Cup finals. This means that four team will qualify directly to the World Cup in Brazil, while one team will advance to an intercontinental play-off against a team from either the OFC, CONCACAF or CONMEBOL.
Bhutan, Guam and Brunei Darussalam didn’t register for the competition and therefore they won’t participate in the AFC Asian Zone Qualifiers.
The 16 lowest ranked participating countries (based on the 2010 FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition and Final Competition results) contested in Round One of the AFC Asian Zone Qualifiers. The first round consisted of eight home-and-away matches, while the winners of these series proceeded to Round 2.
Round 1 – Participants:
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Vietnam
The eight Round 1 series winners advanced to the next round and joined the 22 next, highest-ranked participating countries (based on the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ Preliminary Competition and Final Competition results) in Round 2. The overall 30 teams have been paired into 15 home-and-away series and the matches will be played on July 23 (1st leg) and July 28 (2nd leg).
Round 2 – Participants:
China PR, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Palestine, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen
In Round 3, the 15 Round 2 series winners will then join the remaining five participating countries that received a bye in Round 2. The overall 20 teams will be drawn into 5 round-robin, home-and-away groups of four teams each at the main group draw at Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 30, 2011.
The matches are foreseen to take place in the period September 2, 2011 to February 29, 2012.
Round 3 – Qualified countries due to a bye:
Australia, Bahrain, DPR Korea, Japan, Korea Republic
The five Round 3 group winners and five group runners-up will contest in Round 4 of the AFC Asian Zone Qualifiers. The ten teams will be drawn into two round-robin, home-and-away groups of five teams each. The two group winners and two group runners-up will qualify directly for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, while the third-placed teams of each group advance to Round Five to play one home-and-away play-off series in September 2013.
The winner of this Round 5 series will continue to the intercontinental play-off and face a team from either the OFC, CONCACAF or CONMEBOL.
The road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is a long journey and our Indian team need to take the first hurdle today in their Round 2 match, when they take on the UAE in the first leg. Team India has the advantage to play the second leg at home next week and it could be vital for us to have the support of the home crowd in our aim to advance to Round 3.
Anyone unable to watch the match live on television or looking for a real-time chat to interact with other fans during the match may join my LIVE COVERAGE of the match later today at www.chrispd.de/wordpress/2011/07/23/live-uae-vs-india-fifa-world-cup-2014-qualifier/
(This article was compiled with excerpts from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Competition Guidelines)