Explainer: how the playoffs work for WCQ

The Caltex Socceroos can still qualify for the World Cup next year - it just means they must qualify through the playoffs after they failed to qualify automatically overnight.

And the first playoff is with an AFC nation. 

Successful there and then there's one more playoff with a nation from CONCACAF (the confederation for central and north America as well as the Caribbean). 

So as you can see, it's qualifying the hard way. 


The Asian Football Confederation's Preliminary Competition has 4.5 berths at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

This means the top two nations in Group A and Group B qualify automatically for the World Cup next year.

The winner (0.5 place) of the AFC playoff between the third placed nations will then advance to the inter-confederation playoff against a team from CONCACAF.


In Group A, Iran and Korea Republic have qualified automatically.

In Group B, Japan and Saudi Arabia are now qualified for Russia next year.


Australia and Syria meet in the AFC playoff. It's over two legs in October after both nations finished third.

READ: Meet Australia’s playoff opponent Syria

ANALYSIS: Who are Syria's key players?

The winner then faces the nation that finished fourth in the CONCACAF qualifying group, which takes in North and Central America and Caribbean countries.

Currently that's Honduras but it could also be Panama or even the USA.