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China to Face Iran in Asian Cup Finals
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China is to compete with Iran, Uzbekistan and Malaysia in Group C of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 Finals.

Following the draw made in the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center on Tuesday, China will meet Malaysia on July 10, 2007, Iran on July 15, and Uzbekistan on July 18.

Australia, Iran, Japan and South Korea were named as the four seeds for the 2007 Asian Cup draw according to the FIFA world rankings, with Asian newcomers Australia now the region's top-ranked team after climbing to 38th, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Tuesday.

Australia face a potentially tricky task, needing to get past Iraq, Oman and Thailand in Group A while powerhouse Japan have been slotted in a tough Group B with Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

In Group D Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Bahrain and Indonesia will face off.

As the Asian Cup 2007 Finals will be co-hosted by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, the four teams automatically qualify for the finals.

The AFC's s biggest competition will kick off on July 7, 2007, in Bangkok with Thailand taking on Iraq in Group A. The top-two teams from each group qualify for the quarterfinals which are scheduled for July 21 and 22. The semifinals will take place on July 25 with final to be held in Jakarta on July 29.

Four former best players of Asia, Hidetoshi Nakata (Japan), Fan Zhiyi (China), Mohesin Al Jamaan (Saudi Arabia) and Kim Joo-sung (South Korea, graced the ceremony with their presence.

Fan Zhiyi (L), former player of China national football team and Dato' Peter Velappan, former AFC General Secretary are at the draw for the Asian Cup finals.

In other soccer news, Asia may lose its automatic right to host the 2018 World Cup under a plan being considered by FIFA.

The world governing body was considering scrapping its policy of rotating the tournament between its regions after the 2014 event in South America, Sepp Blatter said on Sunday, which means the 2018 tournament could be thrown open to worldwide bidding and China's hope of hosting the global soccer gala would instantly be diminished.

The FIFA's executive committee will make a decision after deciding who will host in 2014.

AFC Asian Cup 2007 finals draw:

Group A 
A1  Thailand
A2  Australia
A3  Oman
A4  Iraq
Group B 
B1  Vietnam
B2  Japan
B3  Qatar

Group C 
C1  Malaysia
C2  IR Iran
C3  Uzbekistan
C4  China PR
Group D 
D1  Indonesia
D2  Korea Republic
D3  Saudi Arabia
D4  Bahrain

(Xinhua News Agency December 20, 2006)

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