World Cup 2018 Qualifying Final Pots – AFC

source: standard.net.au

 

With AFC set to perform their World Cup Qualifying draw on April 14, 2015, the pots have been finalized, following the conclusion of matches on March 31. The FIFA Rankings set to be released on April 9 will be used as the basis for breaking teams into their respective World Cup Qualifying Pots. Here are the FINAL pots that will be used, with some analysis.

We’ll add our WGF Predictor value in parentheses so you can have an idea of the quality of each side.

 

World Cup Qualifying Pot 1

  1. Iran (97.23)
  2. Japan (98.17)
  3. Korea Republic (97.17)
  4. Australia (97.29)
  5. United Arab Emirates (96.46)
  6. Uzbekistan (96.10)
  7. China PR (95.63)
  8. Iraq (95.40)

 

Not much surprise here. These are your heavy hitters in AFC. These are also the 8 teams that advanced to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup. If you asked Asia to pick 8 teams without using rankings, they’d probably choose these 8. If you’re in another pot, you’re obviously hoping to avoid the Big 4. Drawing China or Iraq is clearly preferential.

 

World Cup Qualifying Pot 2

  1. Oman (95.53)
  2. Saudi Arabia (95.20)
  3. Qatar (96.15)
  4. Jordan (94.80)
  5. Bahrain (95.62)
  6. Vietnam (94.06)
  7. Syria (94.26)
  8. Kuwait (94.97)

Again, not really an unreasonable pot. These are basically your expected second tier Asian teams. But there’s definitely some disparity in quality here. We think Qatar is clearly the best team in this pot, with Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia behind them. Vietnam and Syria appear to be the two weakest in this pot, so that’s what you’re hoping for in the draw if you’re not in this pot. They’re also the two that didn’t play at the Asian Cup.

 

World Cup Qualifying Pot 3

  1. Afghanistan (93.25)
  2. Philippines (93.35)
  3. Palestine (94.21)
  4. Maldives (92.35)
  5. Thailand (94.24)
  6. Tajikistan (93.83)
  7. Lebanon (94.37)
  8. India (93.24)

Here’s where things start to get a little wacky. As the AFC Challenge Cup was last May, the points earned from those matches will still count in the Year 1 window. The teams that did well in Maldives are found pretty high up here. Afghanistan and the Philippines just missed out on Pot 2, which would have been huge. While each would have been the lowest ranked team in that pot, they would’ve had a far greater chance to advance. Maldives is clearly the team others should be hoping to draw from this pot, but there are plenty of teams in here that could make some noise.

 

World Cup Qualifying Pot 4

  1. Timor-Leste (92.76)
  2. Kyrgyzstan (92.91)
  3. Korea DPR (93.73)
  4. Myanmar (93.19)
  5. Turkmenistan (93.21)
  6. Indonesia (93.63)
  7. Singapore (93.01)
  8. Bhutan (92.17)

Nothing all that alarming in this pot. Timor-Leste and Bhutan both picked up two World Cup qualifying wins already, which vaulted them into this pot. We also think they’re the two teams you’d want to draw most from this pot. Korea DPR and Indonesia are probably the best of this lot, but overall it’s a pretty even mix. To see one of these teams advance will probably take some luck of the draw.

 

World Cup Qualifying Pot 5

  1. Malaysia (93.37)
  2. Hong Kong (93.37)
  3. Bangladesh (93.21)
  4. Yemen (93.95)
  5. Guam (93.31)
  6. Laos (92.38)
  7. Cambodia (92.76)
  8. Chinese Taipei (92.27)

There’s a grenade in this pot in the form of Yemen. We have them ranked above every team in Pot 4 as well as 5 teams in Pot 3. They had an 18 game losing streak from June 2012 to March 2014. Since then, they’ve picked up points in 10 of 12 matches. The team they are now is much more representative of their true form. The FIFA Rankings miss here. There are also some other solid teams that are right on par with the quality in Pot 4. The bottom 3 are certainly a cut below the rest in the Pot.

 

So here’s a full rundown of the World Cup Qualifying pots:

Pot 1 Pot 2 Pot 3 Pot 4 Pot 5
Iran Oman Afghanistan Timor-Leste Malaysia
Japan Saudi Arabia Philippines Kyrgyzstan Hong Kong
Korea Republic Qatar Palestine Korea DPR Bangladesh
Australia Jordan Maldives Myanmar Yemen
United Arab Emirates Bahrain Tajikistan Singapore Guam
Uzbekistan Vietnam Thailand Turkmenistan Laos
China PR Kuwait Lebanon Indonesia Cambodia
Iraq Syria India Bhutan Chinese Taipei

 

Only 12 of the 40 teams will progress in World Cup Qualifying. Most of the teams, if not all, in Pot 1 should advance. The rest of the lot will be up in the air, but expect your traditional powerhouses to continue. It would be nice to see the groups reduced down to maybe 20 teams instead of 12, but at least the Group Stage is a start.

As a reminder, this will also be a qualifying round for the Asian Cup 2019, so there is much at stake. Best of luck to all teams at the draw, and thanks for reading. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @We_Global for the latest qualifying news.

 

 

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