0932 GMT February 19, 2019
As the countdown begins before the curtains are raised in the UAE, the 24 teams are putting in the finishing touches in their bid for Asia’s ultimate prize, the-afc.com reported.
Iran, seeking a third Asian title, defeated in-form Qatar 2-1.
Carlos Queiroz's side took the lead in the 17th minute through Mehdi Taremi but Qatar was level two minutes before the break with Hassan al-Haidos converting from the penalty spot at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.
It took Iran just a minute into the restart to lead again, with Sardar Azmoun finding the back of the net as the Central Asians sent out a warning that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Asian Cup.
Korea Republic and Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, played to a 0-0 draw in Abu Dhabi.
Korea Republic was led by Hwang Ui-jo, Hwang In-beom and Lee Chung-yong but a goal eluded them while the Green Falcons weren't able to find the back of the net as well.
The host nation UAE will return to the drawing board following a surprise 2-0 defeat to Kuwait. The UAE will kickstart its campaign in the opening match against Bahrain on January 5 in Group A.
Iraq secured a morale-boosting 2-1 win over China and continued its winning ways with a 1-0 triumph against Palestine, which in earlier friendlies held Iran to a 1-1 draw and defeated Pakistan 2-0.
After defeats in earlier friendlies, Marcello Lippi’s China and Jordan played to a 1-1 draw with goals coming from Wu Xi and Musa Al Tamaari respectively.
Defending champion Australia sent an early warning to its rivals after securing an emphatic 5-0 victory against Oman, which was earlier held to a 0-0 draw by India, the first team to arrive in the UAE.
The in-form Bahrain received a huge boost in its Asian Cup preparation after securing 4-0, 1-0 and 5-0 victories over Korea, Lebanon and Tajikistan respectively.
Vietnam look set to continue its recent fine form as the 2018 AFF Cup champion defeated regional rival Philippines 4-2. The win comes after playing to a 1-1 draw with DPR Korea in an earlier friendly.
Bernd Stange's Syria continued their winning momentum with a 1-0 victory over Yemen following their victory over Kuwait in November as they head into the AFC Asian Cup in fine form.