Fifteen teams learnt about their 2018 AFC Women’s Futsal Championship opponents at the official draw in AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday.
From the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Zone, Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia joined host Thailand, while China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Macau are the East Zone teams for the event taking place on May 2-12 in Bangkok, Thailand, the AFC reported on its website.
Title holder Iran, along with Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, are representatives from the Central Zone, with Bahrain and Lebanon from the West Zone, joined by South Zone’s Bangladesh.
This edition will see seven teams, namely Taiwan, Macau, Turkmenistan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Bangladesh and Indonesia, making their debut in the games.
The 15 sides in the finals were divided into three groups of four teams and one group of three teams, with the Group winners and runners-up from each group qualifying for the quarterfinals.
Thailand, which finished third in 2015, will play host in the second edition that kicks off in Bangkok on May 2, and is set to face Hong Kong, Indonesia and Macau in Group A.
In Group B, Malaysia takes on Vietnam, Chinese Taipei and Bangladesh, while Japan, runner-up in the previous edition, was drawn with China PR, Bahrain and Lebanon in Group C.
Iran will start its title defense against Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in an all-Central Asian affair in Group D.
Iran was crowned as the inaugural champions of the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship after beating Japan 1-0 in a thrilling final in September 2015, which was the first edition of the games for women in Malaysia. Thailand and Malaysia took the third and fourth places respectively.
The team has held friendly preparation matches with Russia in February, defeating the Russians in the first game 2-1 but lost the second leg 4-3.
The AFC Women’s Futsal Championship is the premier national women’s futsal competition of Asian Football Confederation nations.