Muscat: Oman are placed in a tricky group along with 2016 semifinalists Qatar in the 2018 AFC Under-23 Championship on Tuesday.
The draw ceremony for the 16-team Asian youth championship finals, scheduled to take place in China in January next year, was conducted at the Traders Fudu Hotel in Changzhou.
According to news posted on the AFC website, Hamad Al Azzani-coached Oman are placed in Group A along with hosts China, Qatar and Uzbekistan.
Hosts China – automatically assigned to Group A – will also meet Qatar and Uzbekistan after opening their campaign in Changzhou against Oman on January 8.
Meanwhile, first-time qualifiers Palestine were drawn with 2016 champions Japan, as well as North Korea and Thailand, while fellow debutants Malaysia drew a strong group containing Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
The draw produced a number match-ups which are sure to be highly anticipated, none more so than the match between Asian heavyweights South Korea and Australia, to be held in Kushan, in a Group D which also contains Syria and Vietnam.
The ceremony also revealed the tournament’s four host cities with Changzhou, Kunshan, Jiangyin and Changshu - all located in Jiangsu Province - to host the tournament’s 32 matches.
“From our hosting experience with the Chinese Football Association, we have no doubt that the 2018 AFC U-23 Championship will raise the bar,” said AFC Competitions Executive Director Shin Man Gil, who conducted the draw.
Changzhou will act as the tournament’s headquarters, and Changzhou Olympic Sports Centre will host nine matches, including the tournament opener between China and Oman on January 8 and the final on January 27.
Group A: China PR, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Oman
Group B: Japan, North Korea, Thailand, Palestine
Group C: Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia
Group D: South Korea, Australia, Syria, Vietnam