Hosts Australia top seeds for 2015 Asian Cup

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Hosts Australia have been named top seeds for the 2015 Asian Cup ahead of next week’s draw and will avoid being drawn in the same group as defending champions Japan.

Australia, who were beaten by the ‘Blue Samurai’ in the 2011 final in Qatar, are in the first of four pots with top-ranked sides Iran, Japan and Uzbekistan.

While the seedings are based on the latest FIFA world rankings, Australia (ranked 63rd) get the top seed as hosts.

Iran are the top FIFA ranked team at 42, followed by Japan (48th) and Uzbekistan (55th).

The seedings are: Pot 1 (teams ranked 1-4): Australia, Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan Pot 2 (teams ranked 5-8): South Korea, UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia Pot 3 (teams ranked 9-12): Oman, China, Qatar, Iraq Pot 4 (teams ranked 13-16): Bahrain, Kuwait, North Korea and Challenge Cup 2014 winners.

The March 26 draw in Sydney will feature 15 confirmed sides, with the winner of the AFC Challenge Cup 2014, which takes place in the Maldives in May, to take the final slot.

Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford