Japan have known their pathway to Qatar 2022 after the second round draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers was held at the AFC House in Malaysia on Wednesday.
The Samurai Blue coached by former Japan international Hajime Moriyasu are as always one of the strong favourites to make it to the World Cup finals from Asia and have been pitted in Group F where they will be joined by Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Myanmar and Mongolia.
Japan had reached the Round of 16 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia last year only to lose out narrowly to Belgium 3-2 in the dying minutes of the game at the Rostov Arena.
The draw pitted 40 nations, including Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia from the ASEAN region, who were drawn into eight groups of five teams each.
While Vietnam were the highest-ranked ASEAN side in the draw in Pot 2, Thailand and Philippines were in Pot 3. Malaysia and Myanmar were in Pot 4 while Cambodia, Singapore and Indonesia found themselves among the lowest-ranked sides of Asia in Pot 5.
Japan fixtures in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
1. September 1o, 2019 – Myanmar vs Japan
2. October 10, 2019 – Japan vs Mongolia
3. October 15, 2019 – Tajikistan vs Japan
4. November 14, 2019 – Kyrgyz Republic vs Japan
5. March 26, 2020 – Japan vs Myanmar
6. March 31, 2020 – Mongolia vs Japan
7. June 4, 2020 – Japan vs Tajikistan
8. June 9, 2020 – Japan vs Kyrgyz Republic
The second round of the World Cup and Asian Cup joint-qualifiers will commence on September 5, 2019 and conclude on June 9, 2020. The matches in the group stages will be held on an home-and-away basis with each nation playing eight games in total.
The eight group winners as well as the four best runners-up will qualify for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 to be held in China as well as progress to the third and final round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.
The next best 24 teams from the second round of the joint-qualifiers will take part in a separate competition to claim the 12 remaining slots in 24-team 2023 Asian Cup to be held in China.