This 1980 AFC Asian Cup qualification phase started in December 1978 while other qualification matches took place in early 1979. A total of 18 teams participated. Eight teams from the top two of each group advance to the final tournament, joining hosts Kuwait and defending champions Iran.
** Qualified as defending champions
*** Qualified as host
All matches played in the United Arab Emirates.
Bahrain withdrew after abandoning their first match against Syria at 1–0. Their following matches were awarded to the opposing team at 2–0
All matches played in Bangladesh.
All matches played in Thailand.
Allocation matches to determine groups
Singapore received a bye
Third place play-off
1980 AFC Asian Cup qualification Wikipedia
Korea DPR and Malaysia qualified for the final tournamentAll matches played in the Philippines.