Kuala Lumpur: The Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – Preliminary Competition and 2019 Asian Cup 2019 Qualifiers will be held on April 14, 2015, at 5pm, in the Malaysian capital city.
The seedings for the draw will be based on the latest FIFA Rankings available at the time of the draw.
Thirty-four nations have automatically qualified for Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 by virtue of their highest ranks at the time of the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 Draw held on February 10.
The 34 nations are Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, China, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Kuwait, the Philippines, Maldives, Vietnam, Tajikistan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, DPR Korea, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Guam and Bangladesh.
Six nations will advance to Round 2 where the 34 highest ranked teams await (total 40 nations) by finishing as winners in the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 in their respective pairings.
The pairings are India vs Nepal, Yemen vs Pakistan, Timor Leste vs Mongolia, Cambodia vs Macau, Chinese Taipei vs Brunei and Sri Lanka vs Bhutan. The six winners will be decided by March 17.
The 40 nations will be drawn into eight groups of five teams and compete according to a double round robin format, and the Round 2 qualification matches will be held from June 11, 2015 to March 29, 2016.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup finals.