Newly crowned Asian champions Iraq have been pitted against Pakistan, while Uzbekistan will clash with Taiwan in the opening round of the Asian Zone qualifiers for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
In other schedules unveiled in the draw on Monday, Bahrain -- who came close to qualifying for the World Cup last year -- will open their campaign against Malaysia, while China, who failed to reach the last World Cup, will play Myanmar.
The most even contest is likely to be between Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), who will hope to replicate their feat 17 years ago when they qualified for the World Cup in Italy. Vietnam, however, recently defeated the UAE 2-0 at the AFC Asian Cup.
These preliminary rounds will employ a different format from previous qualifiers with 43 teams from Asia battling it out in a four-round qualifying process from Oct. 8 this year to Sept. 9, 2009.
Asia's top five teams -- Australia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iran -- will get a bye and go directly to the third round while the remaining 38 teams will play the first two qualifying rounds Oct. 8 to Nov. 18. Teams ranked 6 to 24 will battle against those ranked from 25-43.
Of the 19 teams that win the first round, the lowest eight will play against each other in the second round, while the other 11 will join the five highest ranked nations in the third round.