The biennial Asian youth showpiece - the second largest AFC competition - will be staged between October 31 and November 14 at the Saudi Arabian cities of Al Khobar and Dammam and the draw saw several teams which had enjoyed glory in the past handed difficult ties.
Japan, who have been denied no less than six times in the final of this competition, were pitted against two-time winners Saudi Arabia, four-time champions Iran and Yemen in Group A.
With only the top-two teams from the four groups advancing to the quarter-finals, the formidable challenge awaiting Tatsuya Makichi’s Japan becomes clear.
In comparison, the draw was fairly kind to reigning champions DPR Korea, who conquered Japan in the final of the last edition held in India in 2006, after they were slotted with fellow East Asians China, Tajikistan and Lebanon in Group C.
Iraq, who essayed a commendable performance in 2006 to reach the quarter-finals, will be looking to draw inspiration from the fairytale AFC Asian Cup win last year of the senior team to overcome Korea Republic, who are gunning for their record 12th Asian youth title, UAE and Syria in Group B.
Australia, who went out in the last eight in India, will be fancying their chances of making the quarter-finals again after getting Jordan, Thailand and Uzbekistan for company in Group D.
The matches will be played at the Prince Mohamed Bin Fahd Stadium (Groups A and C) in Dammam and the Prince Saudi Bin Jalawi Stadium in Al Khobar (Groups B and D).
The four semi-finalists of the AFC U-19 Championship will represent Asia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt next year.
AFC U-19 CHAMPIONSHIP 2008 FINALS DRAW
2. Saudi Arabia
1. Korea Republic
1. DPR Korea