When the draw was made for the second round of AFC qualification for the 2018 World Cup, fans in Australia were treated to a group containing three opponents never faced before at the senior men's level.
Jordan is a familiar opponent but Bangladesh, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are anything but.
All three teams are seen as outsiders in the race to finish fin the top spot that guarantees a place in the final round of qualification. Second will be enough for four out of the eight group runners-up.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, no Central Asian nation has reached the World Cup , with Uzbekistan the only one to come close.
Kyrgyzstan may just be happy to be here but are promising to give their all and get as far down the road to Russia as possible.
The first home game is against Australia on June 16 in Bishkek and fans and players can't wait.
Azamat Baymatov is the captain of the national team. The task of stopping the Socceroos and the others falls on the centre-back's considerable shoulders and he is ready for when the men in Green and Gold come to town.
“It is great that we will play against the new champion of Asia,” the man they call 'Aza' said.
“I always like to face the best teams as much as possible. Only when you play against the top teams can you prove how good you are. We are all looking forward to the challenge.”
The 26 year-old plays for the country's leading club Dordoi Bishkek, champions for nine out of the last eleven seasons, and runners-up in the other two.
He is used to winning and before the game with Australia, there is a trip to Bangladesh. “Our first game is just as important and if we can get off to a good start then we can approach the Australia game with a lot of confidence.”
it will be the biggest game in the country's history. “We know that many players of Australia have played in the English Premier League and top European teams. The most famous here are Tim Cahill, Luke Wilkshere and Mark Schwarzer. Now, there are many young players in the team.”
In contrast, Baymatov claims that there are no stars in his side. “Australia should know that we don't have any one danger man to look out for. We are all dangerous together as one team. That is our strength.”
Results have not been great at home in recent times though Bishkek can be a tough place to play as the skipper warns especially as the Spartak Stadium is where he, and a number of team-mates, play their club football.
“At home we can beat every team. In recent years, we have beaten Jordan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and I think there will be bigger victories to come in the future.
"We know that Australia is the favourite but I think that all teams are fighting for first and second. We will fight for everything.”
Former Socceroo Matt McKay to retire at season's end
Brisbane Roar skipper and 59-time Caltex Socceroo Matt McKay has decided the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 Season will be his last, bringing to an end his 18-year professional journey. McKay confirmed his retirement on Thursday, bringing down the curtain on a glittering career for
Aussies Abroad: Ryan’s Brighton in danger of relegation after Cardiff defeat
Maty Ryan’s Brighton & Hove Albion are perilously close to the relegation zone in the English Premier League after slumping to a 2-0 defeat at home against Cardiff City on Wednesday morning (AEST). There was little the Caltex Socceroos gloveman could do to keep out a goal in e
The Green & Gold gift for Mooy fan that went viral
The story of young American girl Bella’s passion for Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy made headlines at the start of this month when Mooy’s club, Huddersfield Town, kindly invited her and her Father to England to watch the Terriers play Leicester City in the Premier League. Be
Maty Ryan set for Brighton's huge Premier League tie with Cardiff City
Caltex Socceroos star Mathew Ryan is set to play in arguably the most important match of Brighton & Hove Albion’s English Premier League season to date, against Cardiff City on Wednesday morning (AEST). Ryan, 27, can help his team take a huge step away from the relegation zone