THE Philippine Azkals will have a tall mountain to scale in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup after being grouped with South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan in the draw on Friday evening in Dubai.
Wishing for more manageable opponents in the second pot, the Azkals instead drew China after Thailand and Syria got picked in groups A and B respectively.
The last time the Azkals and China met in a friendly, they got an 8-1 drubbing from the emerging Asian powerhouse.
In a pot of powerhouses, the Azkals got the two-time Asian cup champion and 2015 runner-up Korea.
The top two from each group automatically qualify to the knockout stages while the four best third placers will also make the cut.
Hosts United Arab Emirates join Thailand, India and Bahrain in Group A. Defending champion Australia is in Group B with Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
Meanwhile Iran, Iraq, Vietnam and Yemen are in Group D, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and North Korea are in Group E, while four-time champions Japan, Uzbekistan, Oman and Turkmenistan are in Group F.