Hosts Australia draw South Korea for Asian Cup

AFP| Last Updated: Mar 26, 2014, 15:45 PM IST

Sydney: Australia were handed an unwanted assignment against fellow heavyweights South Korea at next year`s Asian Cup as the hosts got a difficult draw at a lavish ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday.

The Socceroos, who have never won the Asian Cup and are hosting it for the first time, will open the tournament against Kuwait in Melbourne on January 9, and will also face Oman in Group A.

While both Australia and South Korea, who have reached eight consecutive World Cups, will be confident of reaching the knock-out stages, neither team can afford any slip-ups.

Defending champions Japan were placed in Group D with Jordan, 2007 winners Iraq and the as-yet-unknown winners of this year`s AFC Challenge Cup.

Uzbekistan were the top seeds in Group B along with three-time winners Saudi Arabia, China and North Korea.

Triple Asian champions Iran head a Group C which also includes the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain, following the draw at Sydney Opera House.

Australia, who joined the Asian confederation in 2006, will hope to use home advantage to win their maiden Asian Cup after missing out 1-0 in extra time to Japan in the 2011 final.

South Korea missed out on one of the top seedings for the draw and were left as dangerous floaters after they temporarily fell outside Asia`s leading four teams on the FIFA rankings.