The Socceroos will know their opponents in the first stage of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers this Tuesday night. And our Asian Champions are set to avoid the region's heavyweights. Here's how it works.
There are 40 nations in total taking part in the draw in Kuala Lumpur, of which Australia will be in Pot 1. This pot is for the top eight ranked nations in Asia.
That means in this preliminary round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Australia cannot face any of the other nations in Pot 1. The Socceroos' pot include Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, UAE, Uzbekistan, China and Iraq.
Based on the latest FIFA World Ranking which was released on Thursday, the teams will be divided into five pots as follows, from which, the teams will be drawn into eight groups of five teams.
- Pot 1 (Teams ranked 1st to 8th): Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Australia, UAE, Uzbekistan, China, Iraq
- Pot 2 (Teams ranked 9th to 16th): Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Vietnam, Syria and Kuwait
- Pot 3 (Teams ranked 17th to 24th): Afghanistan, Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, Thailand, Tajikistan, Lebanon and India
- Pot 4 (Teams ranked 25th to 32nd): Timor-Leste, Kyrgyzstan, DPR Korea, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Singapore and Bhutan
- Pot 5 (Teams ranked 33rd to 40th): Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Yemen, Guam, Laos, Cambodia and Chinese Taipei
Australia will begin qualifiers in mid June.
Qualifiers for Russia 2018 double as qualifiers for the next Asian Cup, to be held in UAE in 2019.
The teams will compete according to a double round robin format, and the Round 2 qualification matches will be held from June 11, 2015 to March 29, 2016.
The group winners and four best runners-up (total 12 teams) will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup finals and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The next best 24 teams from the preliminary stage of the joint qualifiers will compete in a separate competition for the remaining slots (12 slots or 11 slots + 1 slot for the host) in the 24-team 2019 Asian Cup finals.
Aussies Abroad: Ryan clean sheet puts Brighton in reach of safety
It may be an Easter long-weekend but that does not mean there is any less action for our overseas Caltex Socceroos. A clean sheet from Mat Ryan helped secure a vital point for Brighton & Hove Albion in the race for English Premier League survival, as they held Wolverhampton Wa
When are your Caltex Socceroos in action this weekend?
Two Caltex Socceroos stars are set to go head-to-head in Scotland, while there is another pressure-filled 90 minutes ahead for Maty Ryan's relegation-threatened Brighton & Hove Albion. Trent Sainsbury and Aziz Behich’s PSV continue to push for the title in the Netherlands, whi
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