ZURICH: The number of teams that will fight it out in the Asian qualifying rounds, starting in Qatar January 22, to book a place in the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 to be hosted by Tahiti has gone up to 16 with the addition of three more teams.
Afghanistan, the Philippines and Thailand have been added to the Asian qualifying rounds following the draw for the for the additional three teams that was held at FIFA Headquarters in Zurich earlier this week.
Joan Cusco, FIFA Beach Soccer CEO (and FIFA Beach Soccer Committee Member) and Jaime Yarza, FIFA Senior Manager Beach Soccer Competitions, were present at the draw for the additional teams for the Asian qualifiers.
The 16 teams have been divided into four groups of four each. The first-placed team from each group will advance to the semi-finals.
The two finalists and the third place, play-off winner will earn qualification to the seventh edition of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which will take place from the 18th to the 28th of September, 2013 at Toata Stadium (Stade de Toata) in Papeete, on the Pacific island of Tahiti.
Qatar is hosting the Asian qualifying rounds to be held at Katara Beach from January 22 to 26. A state-of-the-art, 3,000 person, temporary stadium will be built on the shore. Spectators can attend all matches free of charge and a small fan zone will also be set up adjacent to the stadium.
Hosts Qatar are placed in Group A that features a strong Australian team, besides the Sultanate of Oman and Afghanistan.
At the original draw, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Qatar, on December 13, teams were drawn into four groups for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 - AFC Qualifiers.
However, after several national member associations asked for additional time to complete their application to the competition, registration remained open following the original draw to accommodate such high-levels of interest from Asian countries to participate in the qualifiers.
Following the addition of the three teams, Local Organising Committee Vice Chairman Nasser Al Khater said, "We are extremely pleased that Qatar is hosting the largest-ever FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2013 - AFC Qualifiers. I look forward to an exciting and enjoyable event geared towards families and wish the best of luck to all of the participating teams."
Qatar, Afghanistan, Australia, Bahrain, China, Iran, Iraq, Japan – 2011 AFC Beach Soccer Champions, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan will compete in the qualifiers.
Group A: Qatar, Oman, Australia and Afghanistan.
Group B: Japan, Bahrain, Lebanon and Thailand.
Group C: United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.
Group D: Iran, China, Iraq and the Philippines. (QNA)