Thursday, January 8, 2015

Upcoming World Cup qualification

The FIFA World Cup will next be held in Russia in June 2018. It's hard to believe but the qualifying games for the competition will begin in March of this year. That's just two months away. The AFC qualification stages begin much earlier than anyone else. After 10 February Cambodia will know who they must beat, over two legs, to progress. The AFC will be combining in part the qualification for the 2018 World Cup as well as the 2019 Asian Cup. As a result, this will permit the qualification process to last longer than in the past. AFC Qualification will consist of four rounds. The first round will feature the lowest ranked teams, with home-and-away ties to reduce the pool of eligible teams to 40. The first round matches will take place on March 12 and 17, with the draw to be held on February 10, 2015. While the AFC has not come out and said it, the October 2014 FIFA Rankings will likely be used to determine the teams that will compete in the first round and they are likely to be Macau, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei, Mongolia, Brunei, Bhutan. The 2nd round is due to be played in groups, eight groups with five teams, playing home & away from June 2015. We await 10 February with great interest. How the World Cup preparation for the Cambodia national team will impact on the latter stages of the Hun Sen Cup and the prep for the C-League remains to be seen. Taking the best players away from their clubs at such a crucial time for training camps will not sit well with the clubs, though Lee Tae-Hoon, the national coach has indicated his disinterest in the World Cup before (vs Laos in 2011), so maybe he won't even bother.

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