Asia's hopefuls at the 2022 FIFA World Cup will have it all to do if they are to get out of the group stage, after all five guaranteed contenders were dealt tough hands in the Friday evening Final Draw in Doha.
Japan, the only Asian side to reach the Round of 16 last time out in 2018, were drawn into Group E alongside two of the three most recent champions in Spain (2010) and Germany (2014), as well as the winner of the playoff between Costa Rica and New Zealand.
"I think that every team at a World Cup is a strong one," Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said afterward. "Spain and Germany have won the title before. We have a goal to reach the last eight and that doesn't change no matter who the opponents. I am looking forward to the fight."
Although they boast a global superstar of their own in Tottenham ace Son Heung-min, the South Koreans will have to match it with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in their quest to reach the last 16 for the first time since 2010.
"When you come to the finals of a World Cup, you can't expect easy draws ... and to be believing in miracles that don't exist," South Korea's coach Paulo Bento said in reaction to the draw. "Being a difficult group for us, I consider that Portugal and Uruguay are the favourites. Most people will agree."
Present at the last four tournaments, Australia are still in with a chance of reaching Qatar 2022 via the playoffs and, should they get there, they will find themselves in Group D alongside France and Denmark -- two teams they also took on four years ago -- as well as Tunisia.
In their tournament debut, hosts Qatar will not have it easy but will perhaps be relieved that they have not suffered as dire a fate as Japan and South Korea.
Having given an excellent account of themselves in 2018, missing out on the knockout round by a solitary point behind Spain and Portugal, Iran should be quietly confident in their chances of causing a stir again even if they have to deal with the might of England in Group B.
The other two teams that Team Melli will face in their group are United States, who they famously beat 2-1 in a memorable encounter in 1998, as well as the final European playoff winner -- either Wales, Scotland or Ukraine.
Iran coach Dragan Skocic was keen to downplay the geopolitical storyline between Iran and the U.S.
"I don't care about this," he said. "Of course there is a story, but we are focused on the playing. I am thinking only about football and not exterior things."
Finally, Saudi Arabia will get the chance to lock horns with two of the biggest stars in world football as they figure out how to contain Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski of Argentina and Poland respectively, as well as Mexico.
Saudi Arabia coach Herve Renard is under no illusions about the task that awaits his team.
"It is a very tough group," he said. "Facing Argentina in the first game will be very difficult, we know that Mexico is a very strong and very fast team, while Poland is doing very well -- [Robert] Lewandowski is a fantastic scorer."