With the seedings known for Wednesday’s AFC Asian Cup 2015 final draw, we take a look at who could be the host nation’s toughest challengers in the group stage.
With the seedings known for Wednesday-s AFC Asian Cup 2015 final draw, we take a look at who could be the host nation-s toughest challengers in the group stage. With the Socceroos to face one team from each of the pots, they could face a challenging road to the finals.
Pot 2 - Korea Republic, UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabia
All four of the Pot 1 nations will undoubtedly be hoping to avoid the Korea Republic in the opening stage of the tournament. Having qualified for every World Cup since 1986, a record run for Asian nations, Uzbekistan recently jumped ahead of the Koreans in the rankings to sneak into pot 1 ahead of the more fancied Taeguk Warriors.
The Socceroos and Koreans faced off at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup where they played out a 1-1 draw after Mile Jedinak scored on the hour mark to cancel out Koo Ja-Cheol-s first half opener. In weakened sides, the Socceroos took the spoils as they claimed a 2-1 win in a friendly clash in Hwaesong in late 2012. The most recent clash was again with Asian-based sides as they played out a 0-0 draw.
Both sides are now looking to build for the World Cup and while Australia could not get across the line in their friendly against Ecuador, the Koreans defeated 13th-ranked Greece 2-0 to highlight their intentions for the busy year ahead. Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will be hoping his side steers clear of the competition contenders in the group stage. Korea Republic qualified for the AFC Asian Cup by finishing third in the 2011 tournament.
Pot 3 - Oman, China PR, Qatar, Iraq
The Socceroos have won their last three matches against 2007 winners Iraq, and China PR just scraped into the tournament. Oman looks to be the Socceroos- toughest challenge out of Pot 3 having been somewhat of a bogey side for the Australians over the past four years and are the highest ranked side in Pot 3 at 81st overall and ninth in Asia.
The Socceroos played back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against the Omanis in late 2011, claiming the first 3-0 at AFC Asian Cup 2015 venue Stadium Australia before losing the following month-s fixture 1-0 in Muscat.
Oman then held the Socceroos to a scoreless draw midway through 2012 before Oman very nearly got a famous win in Sydney.
In another World Cup qualifier, the Omani side claimed a 2-0 lead early in the second half through Abdul Aziz and a Mile Jedinak own goal before Aussie hero Tim Cahill and Brett Holman returned Australia to parity.
If the Socceroos draw the Omanis Ange Postecoglou will no doubt have to do his research as to why his side have not been able to handle the much lower ranked nation in recent years. Oman qualified for the AFC Asian Cup as the winners of Group A that included two scoreless draws with the much higher ranked Jordan.
Pot 4 - Bahrain, Kuwait, DPR Korea, 2014 Challenge Cup winners
Bahrain looks to be the most difficult of the Pot 4 sides. They qualified for the 2015 tournament as undefeated winners of Group D in the main qualification draw. Their four wins came against significantly lower ranked nations Malaysia and Yemen while playing out two draws with fellow AFC Asian Cup qualifiers Qatar.
The Socceroos have not played against Bahrain since the 2011 AFC Asian Cup where current Australian captain Mile Jedinak got the lone goal on 37 minutes. They will no doubt be banking on the three points at home against any of the tournament-s lowest ranked nations.
Socceroos fans will be able to watch the final draw live on Fox Sports News at 7pm on Wednesday 26 March.