After being dealt a difficult World Cup draw, the Socceroos will be hoping for an easier passage through the group stage of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
After being dealt one of the hardest draws imaginable in the World Cup, the Socceroos will be hoping for an easier passage through the group stage of AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
We take a look at what would likely be the easiest way out of their group. (They will face one team from each of Pots 2, 3 and 4)
Pot 2 - Korea Republic, UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia
Despite moving through the main qualification draw undefeated, Saudi Arabia would be a far better matchup for the Socceroos than the likes of competition contenders Korea Republic and recent improvers UAE and Jordan. Saudi Arabia are the lowest ranked side in Pot 2 sitting 12 spots below the Socceroos in 75th in the latest FIFA rankings, but have been steady climbers since slumping to 126th in December 2012.
The two sides have only faced each other twice in the past 15 years with Australia having the upper hand on both occasions. The Socceroos took the spoils in Dammam 3-1 in late 2011 as Josh Kennedy scored a double, while the Aussies then claimed a 4-2 home win at AFC Asian Cup venue Melbourne Rectangular Stadium early the following year.
Saudi Arabia did however move through the main qualification with ease winning five matches and also claiming a draw in a group that also featured Iraq, China and Indonesia.
Pot 3 - Oman, China PR, Qatar, Iraq
Despite having room for improvement under new coach Alain Perrin the Chinese side would be the pick of the bunch from Pot 3. Having only been handed the role as manager a week out from the final qualifier, Perrin-s men managed to scrape through to the tournament as the highest ranked third placed side despite losing 3-1 in their final qualifier against Iraq.
China scored eight points in their group but only managed one win against the two teams that finished above them with that being a 1-0 home triumph against Iraq.
The Socceroos and the Chinese have only matched up once in recent years and that was in the East Asian Cup where Australia played a team lacking their big-name stars. A win is a win though and China got the three points, winning a highly entertaining encounter 4-3 in Seoul.
Pot 4 - Bahrain, Kuwait, Korea DPR, 2014 Challenge Cup winners
It would appear that everyone, including the hosts, is hoping to draw the winner of the 2014 Challenge Cup in their group. The tournament, to be played in May, provides the opportunity for developing football nations to be a part of Asia-s biggest football event. The top ranked nation of the eight team competition is Afghanistan who currently sit well below the likes of Bahrain and Kuwait at 127th in the world.
The Socceroos have only played two of the nations in the tournament with a 6-0 away win over the Philippines in 1972 and a five match series in 1931 with Palestine not offering much insight into how the teams would match up over 50 years on in 2015.
Korea DPR would also be a solid draw for the Socceroos with the 2012 Challenge Cup winners currently ranked 133rd in the world. The Australians played out a 1-1 draw with the North Koreans in 2012 in an East Asian Cup qualifying match with an undermanned side.
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