India given hope for 2019 Asian Cup

India was handed a chance to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup on Monday, placed in a group containing Macau, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan at a draw held in Abu Dhabi.

India, coached by Englishman Stephen Constantine, has to finish in the top two to reach the continental competition, which begins in January 2019 in the United Arab Emirates.

The 12 nations that reached the third round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup have already sealed their spots at the Asian Cup, meaning that continental giants such as Australia, South Korea and Japan were absent from the draw.

With the tournament expanding from 16 teams in 2015 to 24, that leaves 12 places open.

Jordan is the highest-ranked team that has to qualify and will take on Cambodia, Vietnam and an Afghanistan team looking to appear at the Asian Cup for the very first time.

North Korea has been drawn with Lebanon, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Australia is the current champion, defeating South Korea in the final of the 2015 tournament in Sydney. The qualifiers will kick off on March 28.