The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced after a draw in Melbourne on October 9 that Vietnam is in the same group with the UAE, Hong Kong (China) and Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, other Southeast Asian teams will have to fight hard to earn tickets for the final stage.
Indonesia is placed in the death group with China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia and Thailand in another group with Iran, Kuwait and Lebanon.
In two other groups Malaysia is scheduled to compete against Qatar, Bahrain and Yemen, and Singapore to meet Jordan, Syria and Oman.
Sixteen teams will enter the final round in Melbourne from January 4-26.
Five of them already qualified include Japan (2011 Asian Cup defending champion), the Republic of Korea (RoK) (third-place winner), the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) (2012 AFC Challenge Cup defending champion) and the would-be winner of AFC Challenge Cup 2014.
The 2007 Asian Cup was co-hosted by Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Vietnamese football team under Austrian head coach Alfred Riedl then performed miracles in defeating the UAE to enter the tournament’s quarterfinals, but were defeated 0-2 by Iraq, who then won the champion title.