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No home play for Iraq in World Cup qualifiers

6 August 2007 18:05

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Monday unveiled the draw for the first round of regional qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup, saying champions Iraq were unable to play at home.

Afghanistan and the Palestinian team were also barred from playing home matches for security reasons, AFC tournament director and assistant general secretary Carlo Nohra told reporters.

"We decided this after due consideration and also after discussing it with FIFA. I think the soccer authorities in Iraq understand why we made this decision," Nohra said.

"Besides Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan will also not be allowed to play their home matches in their country because of the same reason.

"We will give them time to nominate the country where they will play their home matches and give the green light after discussing it with FIFA," he said.

Iraq -- which won its first-ever Asian Cup in late July with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia -- on Friday was seeded a lowly 12th for the World Cup qualifying tournament.

Teams like Kuwait and North Korea, who did not even qualify for the Asian Cup, were seeded higher.

"We made the seedings in accordance with the FIFA ruling and all countries under our umbrella know how the seedings are made," Nohra said.

"As such, there can be no complaints. The seedings were based on performances done in the last two years and not only this year."

The draw created a number of intriguing match-ups, with Iraq to face Pakistan, while sixth-seeded Bahrain will take on Malaysia.

The top five teams -- Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran -- have been given a bye into the third round.

Of the 19 teams that make it through the first round, the lowest eight battle in the second round for four spots in the third round, while the top 11 move directly into the third round.

The first home-and-away knockout round will take place on October 8 and October 28 while the second round is scheduled for November 9 and November 18.

The draw for the third round will take place in Durban, South Africa, on November 25, 2007.

In the third round, the 20 teams are split into five groups of four, with the top two from each group advancing.

The 10 remaining teams are split into two groups. The top two teams in each group qualify automatically for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Teams that finish third in each group play a home-and-away playoff and the team winning that playoff confronts the winner of the Oceania FC qualification in a home-and-away playoff to get the jackpot spot in the World Cup.

The seedings:

1. Australia 2. South Korea 3. Saudi Arabia 4. Japan 5. Iran 6. Bahrain 7. Uzbekistan 8. Kuwait 9. North Korea 10. China 11. Jordan 12. Iraq 13. Lebanon 14. Oman 15. UAE 16. Qatar 17. Syria 18. Palestine 19. Thailand 20. Turkmenistan 21. Tajikistan 22. Indonesia 23. Hong Kong 24. Yemen 25. Vietnam 26. Kyrgyzstan 27. Maldives 28. India 29. Singapore 30. Sri Lanka 31. Malaysia 32. Taiwan 33. Bangladesh 34. Macau 35. Pakistan 36. Afghanistan 37. Mongolia 38. Guam 39. Nepal 40. Cambodia 41. Bhutan 42. Myanmar 43. East Timor

Teams ranked 1-5 receive a bye to the third round.

THE PAIRINGS FOR ROUND 1

1) Pakistan v Iraq

2) Uzbekistan v Taiwan

3) Thailand v Macau

4) Sri Lanka v Qatar

5) China v Myanmar

6) Bhutan v Kuwait

7) Kyrgyzstan v Jordan

8) Vietnam v UAE

9) Bahrain v Malaysia

10) East Timor v Hong Kong

11) Syria v Afghanistan

12) Yemen v Maldives

13) Bangladesh v Tajikistan

14) Mongolia v North Korea

15) Oman v Nepal

16) Palestine v Singapore

17) Lebanon v India

18) Cambodia v Turkmenistan

19) Guam v Indonesia

Match days: October 8 and 28

Round 2

1) Seed 17 vs Seed 14

2) Seed 16 vs Seed 12

3) Seed 19 vs Seed 15

4) Seed 18 vs Seed 13

Match days: November 9 and 18

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