Based on the latest FIFA World Ranking which was released on Thursday, the teams will be divided into five pots as follows, from which, the teams will be drawn into eight groups of five teams.
– Pot 1 (Teams ranked 1st to 8th): Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Australia, UAE, Uzbekistan, China, Iraq
– Pot 2 (Teams ranked 9th to 16th): Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Vietnam, Syria and Kuwait
– Pot 3 (Teams ranked 17th to 24th): Afghanistan, Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, Thailand, Tajikistan, Lebanon and India
– Pot 4 (Teams ranked 25th to 32nd): Timor-Leste, Kyrgyzstan, DPR Korea, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Singapore and Bhutan
– Pot 5 (Teams ranked 33rd to 40th): Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Yemen, Guam, Laos, Cambodia and Chinese Taipei
Nations placed in the same pot will not face each other during the Preliminary Joint Qualification Round Two matches.
The teams will 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.