For the first time, the Asian Cup final tournament was contested by 24 teams, having been expanded from the team format that was used from to Under this new format, the finalists would contest a group stage consisting of six groups of four teams, followed by a knockout stage of 16 teams. The host nation qualified for the final tournament automatically, while the remaining 23 places were determined among the other 45 national teams of the AFC through a qualifying competition running from to , part of which also served as part of the FIFA World Cup qualification process for the confederation. The tournament was won for the first time by Qatar , who defeated Japan 3—1 in the Final. This was also Qatar's first ever top 4 finish in the competition. The defending champions Australia , were eliminated by the hosts UAE at the quarter-final stages, who subsequently lost to the eventual champions in the semi-finals.
The result gave Park Hang-Seo the perfect platform from which to seal qualification for the continental championship when he takes over as head coach this week. Three points at home to Afghanistan next month would book their ticket to United Arab Emirates in Jan. South Korean Park was in attendance as Thanh Dinh's deflected effort put the home side in front after 13 minutes. Vietnam continued to dominate, but Cambodia were no pushovers and made a few chances and threatened on the break. There was relief when the Golden Stars scored two quickfire goals just before the hour mark to put the game beyond their neighbours.
Vietnam close to 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualification after Cambodia win
However, it will be Vietnam who will progress from Group D to the Round of 16 as the final of the best third-placed teams. Lebanon went into the match knowing that they needed to defeat DPR Korea with a four-goal margin in order to leapfrog AFF Suzuki Cup champions Vietnam and qualify as the final third-placed team. However, they were stunned when DPR Korea went into the lead as early as the ninth minute.
However, it was the Golden Dragons that progressed into the knockout stages. Vietnam had ended the group stages with a win over Yemen, placing them third in group D behind Iran and Iraq with 3 points and a goal difference of Lebanon also ended the group stages with identical statistics after pulling off an incredible victory over North Korea in their final group E game that saw their goal difference improve from -4 to -1 in a single match.