When the 2022 FIFA World Cup takes off in Qatar later this year, it will be the first time that six countries from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will compete in a FIFA World Cup. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, among other Asian powers, have already confirmed their participation in the competition, while hosts Qatar will be making their debut. The six countries will also draw inspiration from the fact that South Korea advanced to the semi-finals the last time Asia hosted the event in 2022, while Japan advanced to the Round of 16. With only a few months until the FIFA World Cup 2022, here’s a look at the six AFC sides that will compete in the tournament .
After defeating Peru on penalties in the inter-confederation play-off, the Socceroos had the longest journey to the FIFA World Cup 2022. The season got off to a great start when they easily won their first-round group. However, after two losses to Japan and another to Saudi Arabia, they were forced to play the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the fourth-round play-off. It was a hard-fought match, but Australia prevailed thanks to a late goal from Ajdin Hrustic. Jamie Maclaren was their highest scorer in the qualification process with seven goals, and while substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne shone against Peru, Matt Ryan will be pivotal in their campaign in Qatar. The Socceroos’ task will be made more difficult by their placement in Group D, which includes dark horses Denmark, Tunisia, and reigning champions France.
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Japan scored 46 goals in eight games in the first round of qualifying, and it was their attackers who ensured their seventh consecutive FIFA World Cup appearance in the second round. The Blue Samurais did slump to defeats against Oman and Saudi Arabia but with the duo of Takumi Minamino and Yuya Osako scoring 10 goals each over the two rounds, it was easy sailing for Hajime Moriyasu’s side. In Qatar, they will be placed in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ along with the two European heavyweights – Germany and Spain – along with Costa Rica.
Under the management of Dragan Skocic, Iran has the most impressive team in the AFC qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup 2022. With most goals scored and the most points for any nation, Iran cruised past their opponents with their only loss coming against South Korea. Bayer Leverkusen striker Sardar Azmoun finished the campaign with 10 goals while his strike partner Mehdi Taremi provided able support. This will be Iran’s sixth appearance in the World Cup and with England, Wales and the United States in their group, it will be a tough job for them to reach the playoffs.
South Korea (South Korea)
Son Heung-min and Co had a relatively easy journey to the FIFA World Cup 2022 with five wins out of the six games in the first round and just loss in the second round. The Tottenham superstar led his team by example as he was the top-scorer with six goals but it will be tough for them to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Round of 16 from a group featuring Portugal, Uruguay and Ghana.
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Saudi Arabia is a country in the Middle East.
Another team which cruised through the qualifying process with just one loss in two rounds. Salem Al-Dawsari and Saleh Al-Shehri top-scored with seven goals and with Argentina, Mexico and Poland in their FIFA World Cup 2022 group, there is an outside chance for the Asian giants to reach the next stage. This will be the sixth appearance for the top Asian side in the FIFA World Cup.
This will be the debut appearance for Qatar in the FIFA World Cup as they will be hosting the footballing extravaganza. Qatar took part in the qualification Round 1 in order to secure their place in the Asian Cup 2023 and ended up toping their group with seven victories and one draw. Over the last couple of years, they have taken part in invitational competitions, but it will be a tough road for them in the World Cup as they are placed in Group A along with Ecuador, Senegal and Netherlands.