As the buildup to the AFC Asian Cup 2019 continues, FOX Sports Asia looks at each of the six groups in detail, starting with Group B which consists of defending champions Australia, Jordan, Palestine and Syria.
January 6: Australia V Jordan (Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain – 3:00pm local time)
January 6: Syria V Palestine (Sharjah Stadium, Sharjah – 8:00pm local time)
January 10: Jordan V Syria (Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain – 5:30pm local time)
January 11: Palestine V Australia (Rashid Stadium, Dubai – 3:00pm local time)
January 15: Australia V Syria (Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium, Al Ain – 5:30pm local time)
January 15: Palestine V Jordan (Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi – 5:30pm local time)
FIFA World Ranking: 41
Asian Cup Appearances: 3
Asian Cup Qualification Second Round – Group B Toppers with 7 wins, 0 draws and 1 losses
Last 5 games: Peru (0-2), Kuwait (4-0), Korea Republic (1-1), Lebanon (3-0), Oman (5-0)
As the defending champions, much is expected as Australia take the stage. Naturally, they’re considered contenders again but as teams in the region continue to improve, they will be challenged.
The team may be going through some changes because of injury but the deep talent the Socceroos have still cannot be denied.
Goalkeepers: Mitchell Langerak (Nagoya Grampus), Mathew Ryan (Brighton & Hove Albion FC), Daniel Vukovic (KRC Genk)
Defenders: Aziz Behich (PSV Eindhoven), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg BK), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Matthew Jurman (Al-Ittihad Jeddah), Josh Risdon (Western Sydney Wanderers FC), Trent Sainsbury (PSV Eindhoven), Mark Milligan (Hibernian FC)
Midfielders: Mustafa Amini (AGF Aarhus), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Jackson Irvine (Hull City AFC), Massimo Luongo (Queens Park Rangers), James Jeggo (Austria Wien), Tom Rogic (Celtic FC)
Forwards: Apostolos Giannu (AEK Larnaca), Robbie Kruse (VfL Bochum), Mathew Leckie (Hertha BSC), Awer Mabil (FC Midtjylland), Jamie Maclaren (Hibernian FC), Andrew Nabbout (Urawa Red Diamonds)
Key Player: Mark Milligan
The Socceroos skipper will play an important part as they try to keep things together despite missing out key players due to injury.
His maturity and calmness on the pitch should play important roles as Australia try to battle despite having targets on their backs.
FIFA World Ranking: 109
Asian Cup Appearances: 3
Road to Qualification: Asian Cup Qualification Third Round – Group C Toppers with 3 wins, 3 draws and 0 losses
Last 5 games: India (2-1), Saudi Arabia (1-1), Kyrgyzstan (0-1), Qatar (2-0), China PR (1-1)
Heading into their fourth AFC Asian Cup, Jordan have done fairly well in terms of making it into the knockout stages.
In 2004, they reached the quarter-final before losing to Japan via penalty shootout. When they came back in 2011, they reached the same stage again, but fell short once again this time to Uzbekistan.
They failed to make it past the group stages in 2015 but are hoping to do better moving in 2019.
Goalkeepers: Amer Shafi (Shabab Al-Ordon), Moataz Yaseen (Al-Faisaly), Ahmed Abdel-Sattar (Al-Jazeera)
Defenders: Tareq Khattab (Al-Salmiya), Yazan Abu Arab (Al-Jazeera), Mohammed Al-Basha (Al-Wehdat), Anas Bani Yaseen (Al-Faisaly), Bara’ Marei (Al-Faisaly), Feras Shelbaieh (Al-Jazeera), Salem Al-Ajalin (Al-Faisaly)
Midfielders: Baha’ Abdel-Rahman (Al-Faisaly), Saeed Murjan (Al-Wehdat), Saleh Rateb (Al-Wehdat), Yousef Al-Rawashdeh (Al-Faisaly), Ahmad Ersan (Al-Faisaly), Yazan Thalji (Al-Wehdat), Yaseen Al-Bakhit (Dibba Al-Fujairah), Musa Al-Taamari (APOEL), Obaida Al-Samarneh (Al-Wehdat), Khalil Bani Attiah (Al-Faisaly), Ahmed Samir (Al-Jazeera)
Forwards: Baha’ Faisal (Al-Wehdat) and Odai Khadr (Dhofr)
Key Player: Yaseen Al-Bakhit
At 30 years old, Yaseen Al-Bakhit is at the peak of his powers to help Jordan reach the knockout stages.
With 49 international caps, he leads the nation in international goals with 14. His performances should be vital if Jordan are able to get big results.
FIFA World Ranking: 99
Asian Cup Appearances: 1
Asian Cup Qualification Third Round – Group D Runner-up with 5 wins, 0 draws and 1 loss
Last 5 games: Pakistan (2-1), China PR (1-1), Iran (1-1), Iraq (0-1), Kyrgyzstan (1-2)
The team made their debut back in 2015 and find themselves in the second-straight edition of the AFC Asian Cup.
They’re definitely hoping for a different outcome this year as they only managed to score one goal the entire 2015 competition while allowing 11 through three matches.
Entering the tournament, their form isn’t the best, either, but all that matters is what they do from the first match onwards.
Goalkeepers: Tawfiq Ali (Taraji Wadi Al-Nes), Amr Kaddura (Landskrona BoIS), Rami Hamadeh (Hilal Al-Quds)
Defenders: Daniel Mustafá (Sarmiento de Leones), Mohammed Saleh (Floriana FC), Tamer Salah (Hilal Al-Quds), Musab Al-Battat (Ahli Al-Khaleel), Jaka Ihbeisheh (NK Bravo), Abdullah Jaber (Ahli Al-Khaleel), Abdelatif Bahdari (Markaz Balata), Alexis Norambuena (Deportes Melipilla)
Midfielders: Mohammed Bassim (Shabab Al-Bireh), Shadi Shaban (Ahli Al-Khaleel), Jonathan Cantillana (Hilal Al-Quds), Tamer Seyam (Hassania Agadir), Sameh Maraaba (Ahli Al-Khaleel), Pablo Tamburrini (Shabab Al-Bireh), Oday Dabbagh (Hilal Al-Quds), Nazmi Albadawi (FC Cincinnati), Mohammed Darweesh (Hilal Al-Quds)
Forwards: Yashir Islame (Coquimbo Unido), Khaled Salem (Markaz Balata), Mahmoud Wadi (Al-Masry)
Key Player: Rami Hamadeh
They young goalkeeper may be called upon to help Palestine stay in the competition and at 24 years old, he’s definitely shown he belongs as the top pick in the national squad.
He might face stiff competition for his post, but if he plays the first match and gets a decent performance, he may be playing all three for Palestine.
FIFA World Ranking: 74
Asian Cup Appearances: 5
Road to Qualification: Asian Cup Qualification Second Round – Group E Runner-up with 6 wins, 2 draws and 0 losses
Last 5 games: Bahrain (1-0), China PR (0-2), Oman (1-1), Kuwait (2-1), Yemen (1-0)
After missing out on the 2015 edition, Syria are back and people are hoping that they do well as they make their return.
Ranked sixth highest in the AFC, much is expected from them and they’re hoping to finally make it into the knockout stages after failing in the other five editions they took part in.
Goalkeepers: Ibrahim Alma (Al-Wahda), Mahmoud Al-Youssef (Al-Jabalain), Ahmad Madania (Al-Jaish)
Defenders: Ahmad Al Salih (Al-Ahed), Moayad Ajan (Al-Jazeera), Jehad Al Baour (Al-Riffa), Omar Midani (Pyramids), Amro Jenyat (Al-Shabab), Hussein Jwayed (Al-Zawra’a), Nadim Sabagh (Tishreen), Abdul Malek Anizan (Al-Jaish)
Midfielders: Mahmoud Al Mawas (Mahmoud Al Mawas), Mohammed Osman (Heracles Almelo), Osama Omari (Qatar), Tamer Haj Mohamad (Ohod), Ahmad Ashkar (Al-Jaish), Youssef Kalfa (Al-Hazem), Zaher Midani (Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya), Khaled Al Mobayed (Al-Wahda), Fahd Youssef (Al-Sailiya)
Forwards: Omar Kharbin (Al-Hilal), Omar Al Soma (c) (Al-Ahli), Mardik Mardikian (Al-Jazeera)
Key Player: Omar Al Somah
Just like Australia, the key player for Syria is their skipper, Omar Al Somah. At 29 years old, he’s definitely primed to lead the team to their first-ever knockout stage appearance.
Despite only representing the national team 17 times, his leadership and talent are enough for him to win the captain’s armband. And with seven goals in 17 appearances, expect him to score at least one goal in the competition
With the defending champions in the group, the competition might be for who will finish in second place among the three remaining nations.
Australia have the definitive advantage as they have the pedigree to challenge them all, but they must remain focused as squads like Syria can surprise them with perfect performances that may find them scrambling.
With that said, it is highly unlikely that the holders bow out in the group stages and whether they sweep the group stage matches should be the question.
As for second place, all three nations have claims to it and this should result in a pretty interesting group.
First place: Australia
Second place: Syria