Azkals grouped with South Korea, China, Kyrgyzstan in 2019 AFC Asian Cup

AFC Asian Cup Draw : As It Happened

Held every four years, the Asian Cup will start on January 5 with matches to be held in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah.

The War Elephants will then face Bahrain on Jan 10 and take on the hosts on Jan 14, the last day of the round-robin battles.

Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Sunday said that the country should play more global matches away from home and against much stronger opponents in the next six months if it is to do well in the AFC Asian Cup tournament.

India coach Stephen Constantine and team Manager Shanmugam Venkatesh also attended the draw ceremony. We played Thailand 6-7 years ago and it was a 2-2 draw and now, they are competing with the best in Asia. So they are not a bad team, they are a very good side, very improved.

The AFC President added: "I have no doubt that the UAE, one of the Continent's most dynamic and visionary countries, will be the ideal stage for this historic tournament". UAE is ahead of us and they are playing at home.

"Right now, some of the people think Thailand is going to be easy but it's not".

"I am happy with the kind of performance we have put into".

Bahrain coach Miroslav Soukup said: "What can I say, we have a very interesting group". However, having seen the UAE at close quarters during the 2015 tournament, and then again in qualification for this summer's Fifa World Cup, the former Australian global feels they have enough talent to perform well next January.

The top 24 teams from all over Asia, including hosts UAE, were drawn into six groups of four teams each.

The country's top goalscorer Phil Younghusband was in the Emirates' largest city as the draw assistant alongside other big names in Asian football like India's Sunil Chettri, China's Sun Jihai and Iran's Ali Daei.

Australia have been drawn in Group B alongside Palestine, Jordan and Syria, with the match against the latter the standout.

Australia's assistant coach Ante Milicic fancies his side's chances of defending the Asian Cup title.

A new trophy and a new ball was also presented as the AFC formally bade farewell to Nike as its technical partner with Japanese-made Molten stepping in as the confederations' new partner beginning with this tournament that will kick off on January 5.

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