Asian Cup knockout stage: Which nations have qualified, which teams are out

The group stage of the 2023 Asian Cup has concluded and, thanks to 16 of its 24 competing nations qualifying for the knockouts, there was still plenty to play for heading into their final fixtures.

The top two finishers from the six groups all advanced automatically to the round of 16, where they were joined by the four best third-placed finishers.

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Should two teams finish level at the end of their group's fixtures, their head-to-head meeting will be used as the first tiebreaker, followed by goal difference, goals scored, fair play points and, finally, drawing of lots.

The same criteria applies to ranking the six third-placed finishers from the groups, sans the head-to-head dynamic.

Qualified for the knockouts: Qatar, Tajikistan, Australia, Uzbekistan, Syria, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, Iraq, Japan, Indonesia, Bahrain, South Korea, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand

Eliminated: China, Lebanon, India, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Oman, Kyrgyz Republic

Final standings

Group A

After defeating China in their final group game, Qatar topped the group with three wins, all without conceding a goal.

Tajikistan's dramatic, come-from-behind win over Lebanon sees the tournament's only debutants qualify for the knockout stage.

- Read: Tajikistan triumph on night of sheer Asian Cup drama

Goalless in their three games, China finished third in the group and -- thanks to Tuesday's set of results -- were eliminated from the Asian Cup.

Miodrag Radulović's Lebanon side finished fourth in the group with zero points with Bassel Jradi scoring their lone goal of the tournament.

Group B

Australia ground out three results to finish clear at the top of Group B, setting up a match against Indonesia in the round of 16.

Tuesday's 1-1 draw with the Socceroos means Uzbekistan also went through the group stage unbeaten, locking in second place.

- Read: The Socceroos' solidity could also be their Achilles' heel

Syria's late 1-0 win over India ensured that the Nosour Qasioun will progress to the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed finishers.

India produced their worst Asian Cup performance in 40 years after losing all three of their group matches without scoring, bowing out with a goal difference of -6.

Group C

Continental heavyweights Iran made light work of Group C, winning all three matches, and will play Group B's third-place finishers Syria in the round of 16.

Yahya Al Ghassani's 93rd-minute strike for the UAE in Tuesday's 2-1 loss to Iran may not have affected the result, but it proved crucial in lifting Al Abyad above Palestine in the Group C table on goal difference. That second-place finish will see Paulo Bento's side play Tajikistan in the round of 16.

- Read: Fortune favours the brave as Palestine make history

Having made their Asian Cup debut in 2015, Palestine are through to the knockout round for the first time in three attempts and will face hosts and defending champions Qatar.

Things started brightly for Hong Kong with Chan Siu Kwan's 49th-minute equaliser in the opening match against the UAE giving Jørn Andersen's side a real sense of hope. It was, unfortunately, all downhill from there as FIFA's 150th-ranked side crashed out of the 2023 Asian Cup with three defeats in three.

Group D

Iraq had already guaranteed their progression as group winners following a stunning victory over Japan, and went on to finish the group stage with a perfect record of three wins after beating Vietnam on Wednesday.

- Read: Japan and Indonesia both face nervous wait at Asian Cup

Although they have made things difficult for themselves, Japan are ultimately advancing to the knockout round as expected after beating Indonesia 3-1 to finish as Group D runners-up.

Indonesia were made to wait to find out if their record of three points would be enough for them to progress as one of the four best-performing third-placed teams, and it ultimately proved to be the case as they scraped through as the final team in the round of 16.

Vietnam were already eliminated on match day 2 and bowed out with a miserable record of three straight defeats.

Group E

A dramatic turnaround took place as the final set of matches saw Bahrain beat Jordan 1-0 to jump from third spot to winning the group altogether.

- Read: Malaysia save their best for last in draw with South Korea

The result did originally pave the way for South Korea to finish top but they stuttered to a 3-3 draw with Malaysia, a result was ultimately enough to advance as Group E runners-up.

Although they did slip from top spot to third, Jordan were able to advance as one of the four best-performing third-placed teams, while already-eliminated Malaysia did at least bow out with a point to their names and pride restored from a battling display against the South Koreans.

Group F

Having already ensured their progress after two games, Saudi Arabia sealed top spot with a point from a 0-0 draw with Thailand.

Thailand were already through after Wednesday's Group D results but now head into the knockout round undefeated and yet to concede a goal.

Oman looked to have done enough to book their place in the last 16 as they were leading Kyrgyz Republic until Joel Kojo's 80th-minute equaliser meant the two sides had to settle for a share of the spoils -- a result which saw both eliminated as Indonesia scraped through at the expense of the Omanis.

Third-place finishers

Palestine and Syria were the first teams to claim unassailable positions in the third-placed team table, meaning that both nations advanced to the round of 16.

It did not take long for China to be out of the running but the final four teams marching on into the knockout round was only confirmed at the end of the group stage on Thursday.

Jordan slipped from first to third in Group E but still did enough to advance, before Oman's draw with Kyrgyz Republic meant that Indonesia had done enough to advance by a solitary point.