A total of 21 AFC and OFC teams entered the competition. However, withdrew before the draw was made. The Asian and Oceanian zone was allocated 2 places (out of 24) in the final tournament.
There would be two rounds of play:
First Round: The remaining 20 teams would be divided into 4 groups. The groups had different rules, as follows:
Group 1 had 5 teams. The teams played against each other on a home-and-away basis. The group winner would qualify.
Group 2 had 5 teams. The teams played against each other once in Saudi Arabia. The group winner would qualify.
Group 3 had 4 teams. The teams played against each other once in Kuwait. The group winner would qualify.
Group 4 had 6 teams. All matches were played in Hong Kong. There would be four stages of play:
Classification matches: All teams would be paired up to play preliminary matches to determine group classification.
Group stage: Based on the results of the classification matches, the 6 teams were divided into 2 groups of 3 teams each. The teams played against each other once. The group winners and runners-up would advance to the semifinals.
Semifinals: The winner of Group A played against the runner-up of Group B in a single match, and the winner of Group B played against the runner-up......