Iran kick off Olympic soccer qualifiers against Kyrgyzstan
Asian heavyweights Iran were drawn against Kyrgyzstan in the opening round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic soccer tournament in London. The draw for round one was held at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
A total of 35 teams are involved in the AFC qualifying event and round one will feature the 22 lowest seeds in two-leg knockout ties on February 23 and March 9, 2011, Xinhua reported.
Thailand will kick off with a home game against Palestine, while fellow Southeast Asian sides Malaysia and Indonesia will host Pakistan and Turkmenistan respectively in February.
Singapore will visit Yemen before hosting the decisive second leg two weeks later, while Hong Kong, China will face the Maldives.
Kuwait, whose senior side recently won the WAFF Championship, will first host Bangladesh, while UAE will take on Sri Lanka, Oman welcome Tajikistan and Jordan play Chinese Taipei.
India, whose senior side are competing in the AFC Asian Cup for the first time in January, will take on Myanmar.
The 11 winners will join the top 13 highest-ranked sides in round two, which will also be played over two legs on June 19 and 23, 2011.
South Korea are the top seeds and are followed by Australia, China, Japan, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, DPR Korea, Syria, Lebanon, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
The winners from the 12 ties will be drawn into three groups of four for round three, with teams playing each other home and away across six matchdays from September 21, 2011 through to March 14, 2012. The top team in each group will automatically earn a place at the Olympics.
The runners-up in each group will then compete in the playoffs, with the three teams playing each other in a round-robin group at a centralised venue. The winners will then compete against CAF's fourth-ranked team for a berth at London 2012.
Japan, South Korea and Australia qualified for the 2008 Olympics along with hosts China.
Players competing in qualifiers for the 2012 Olympics must be born in 1989 or after, while three overage players can be included for the final competition.
The 2012 Olympic soccer tournaments will be held in venues across the United Kingdom.
Wembley Stadium in London will host the finals of the men's and women's competitions, while other stadiums include Old Trafford in Manchester, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, St James' Park in Newcastle, Hampden Park in Glasgow and City of Coventry Stadium.
Round One (first legs listed): February 23, 2011 and March 9, 2011
Thailand vs Palestine
Jordan vs Chinese Taipei
Yemen vs Singapore
Kuwait vs Bangladesh
Malaysia vs Pakistan
UAE vs Sri Lanka
India vs MyanmarP Oman vs Tajikistan
Indonesia vs Turkmenistan
Iran vs Kyrgyzstan
Hong Kong, China vs Maldives
Round Two: June 19, 2011 & June 23, 2011
Round Three: September 21, 2011-March 14, 2012
Playoffs: March 25-29, 2012