Who Are Australia's Potential Opponents In Germany

Australia joins 31 other nations that will participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and for the first time since 1982 all six Confederations will be represented.

Australia joins 31 other nations that will participate in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ and for the first time since 1982 all six Confederations will be represented.

We (Australia) are in a funny situation because we qualified as a team from the Oceania Football Confederation, yet come the time of the World Cup we will actually be part of the Asian Football Confederation, so in effect we are representing two Confederations at the World Cup.

So who will be Australia-s potential opponents once the draw is made?

Each team will get a seeding into one of four groups, with seeding-s not strictly taken from the FIFA rankings, but also includes results of the past two World Cups. The eight teams in each of these seeding groups is put into pots for the main draw.   The World Cup groups will then be picked out, with one team from each of the four pots picked out to make a group. Those teams that are seeded the same as Australia will not face the Socceroos in the group stages.

On December 9, all will be revealed in Leipzig, Germany, where the draw will be made for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.

We will take a look at all 31 other competing nations and how they qualified.

African Zone Five teams qualified: Togo, Ghana, Cote d-Ivoire, Angola, Tunisia (four are first time World Cup qualifiers)

Group 1 - Togo (49 Latest FIFA Rankings) - qualified for its first World Cup after finishing two points ahead of the group favourites Senegal, the African sensations of the 2002 World Cup finals. Won seven of its 10 matches, scoring 20 goals for and conceding just 8.

Group 2 - Ghana (51) - surprisingly this is the first time that Ghana for the World Cup finals, despite being considered one of the powerhouse countries at youth level in the world. In what was a very strong group, Ghana was the biggest clear winner, finishing five points ahead of Congo and South Africa, the group favourites and hosts of the 2010 World Cup finals. Won six matches and lost just one, conceding just four goals in the 10 matches.

Group 3 - Cote d-Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast - 48) - this group went right down to the wire and the last kick of the competition with African powerhouse Cameroon missing a penalty that would otherwise have seen them overtake Cote d-Ivoire. However the strife-torn country prevailed by one point, giving them their first appearance at a World Cup finals.

Group 4 - Angola (21) - Angola made it to their first World Cup finals after finishing level on points with Nigeria, but had a better head-to-head record after winning at home and drawing away. A solid defence was the key for Angola only conceding six goals in the 10 matches. They won six, drew three and lost one match.

Group 5 - Tunisia (27) - This will be Tunisia-s fourth appearance at a World Cup finals, including the last three in a row. They scrapped through by a mere point from Morocco, mainly due to its superior goal scoring record. Won six of its ten qualifying matches.

Asian Zone Four teams qualified: Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Japan

Group A - Saudi Arabia (31) & Korea Republic (29) - After both won their initial group stages, traditional Asian heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Korea Republic were joined by Uzbekistan and Kuwait. From early on, Saudi and Korea were the dominant teams and duly picked up the two automatic spots from their group. Saudi grabbed top spot going through its six matches unbeaten, with four of those wins.

Group B - Japan (16) & Iran (21) - Like Group A, Japan and Iran dominated their group, even more so than in Group A. Japan won the group, winning five of six matches and finishing two points ahead of Iran, then Bahrain and Korea DPR.

Uzbekistan and Bahrain played off for the right to be the Asian representative in the play-off against the North and Central American Zone. Bahrain came out on top in a controversial play-off that saw one of the games replayed.

Bahrain was beaten in their Intercontinental Play-off with Trinidad & Tobago.

European Zone 13 teams qualified plus Germany (15) qualify as host: Netherlands, Ukraine, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Poland, Serbia & Montenegro, Croatia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain.

Group 1 - Netherlands (2) - A strong group consisting of seven teams, the Netherlands went through unbeaten, winning 10 of its 12 matches. Conceded just three goals. The Czech Republic qualified for a play-off position in second spot.

Group 2 - Ukraine (39) - Were the first European team to qualify, despite this being one of the most even and toughest groups. The top four teams were separated by just four points, with Ukraine finishing two points ahead of group favourites Turkey and Denmark and European Champions Greece following. The Turks qualified for a play-off.

Group 3 - Portugal (=9) - Undefeated in its 12 matches, winning nine and drawing three, the Portuguese as expected qualified directly. Slovakia and Russia finished level in second place, but Slovakia had the better head-to-head record and qualified for a play-off.

Group 4 - France (5) - The tightest group in Europe saw the 1998 World Champions France, win its final game to qualify ahead of Switzerland, Israel and the Republic of Ireland. The top three teams all went through the qualifiers undefeated, with draws a plenty. France got through courtesy of winning one more game. Switzerland qualified in second spot for a play-off.

Group 5 - Italy (12) - Group favourites Italy were convincing winners of the group, winning seven of its 10 matches and losing just one. Norway grabbed second spot and a play-off place.

Group 6 - England (=9) & Poland (23) - England managed to win the group by just a single point over the Poles, but the Poles grabbed one of the two-best second placed teams spots. Both won eight of their ten games with England losing just one, as opposed to Poland-s two.

Group 7 - Serbia & Montenegro (42) - Based on a very solid defensive formation, S & M fought off group favourites Spain. They conceded just one goal in its 10 matches, enabling them to finish two points ahead of the Spanish, who were consigned to a play-off spot.

Group 8 - Croatia (19) & Sweden (13) - The only group where the top two finished level on top, with both going through. Croatia, who were unbeaten, officially finished on top of the group with a better head-to-head record against the Swedes.


Czech Republic (3) v Norway - the Czech Republic won 2-0 on aggregate, securing 1-0 wins both home and away.

Turkey v Switzerland (38) - ended in amazing scenes in Istanbul, with Switzerland going through on away goals after it finished 4-4 on aggregate. The Swiss won the home leg 2-0, with Turkey winning 4-2 in Istanbul.

Spain (8) v Slovakia - Spain effectively ended this play-off as a contest after the first leg with an emphatic 5-1 win. The return leg finished 1-1.

North and Central American Zone Four teams qualified: USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Trinidad & Tobago (qualified for the first time)

Following two lots of preliminary qualifying, six teams made it to the last qualifying stage. The top three would automatically qualify, with the fourth placed team meeting an Asian representative in one two Intercontinental play-off-s.

As expected the Confederations heavyweights the USA (7) and Mexico (6) qualified fairly comfortably, with both finishing on 22 points and winning seven of their ten games.

The fight for the remaining two places was going to be much tighter, but eventually Costa Rica (20) gained the third automatic spot.

The play-off spot came down to a fight between Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala, with the Dwight Yorke led Caribbean nation of T & T winning through to the play-off.

After a 1-1 draw at home against Bahrain, Trinidad & Tobago (53) World Cup dream appeared slim, but they shocked the Middle East country away to win the game 1-0 and qualify for their first World Cup finals.

South American Zone Four teams qualified: Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, and Paraguay

With only 10 teams in the Confederation, it was a straight home and away against every nation, the most qualifying matches of any zone. The top four would automatically qualify, with the 5th placed team to meet the winner of the Oceania Zone, which as we know was Australia.

Brazil (1), the defending World Champions, were made to qualify (the first time in history this has happened) and Argentina (4) were expected to dominate and they didn-t let their supporters down, as they quickly raced away from the pack. They eventually finished level on 34 points, with Brazil finishing on top with a better head-to-head, after Argentina lost its last match to Uruguay.

Ecuador (36) and Paraguay (33) put some distance between themselves and four other teams to virtually ensure they grab the third and fourth automatic places before the last games kicked off.

Uruguay grabbed fifth place thanks to its victory over Colombia and as we are acutely aware they then faced Australia in the play-off and lost on penalties.

Of the finalists confirmed the top ten nations in the latest FIFA World Rankings will all be at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, with Turkey (11) the highest ranked team not in Germany. Of the top 20 nations, 16 will be in Germany.

There will nine teams ranked from 21-40, with seven teams ranked between 41 and 60.

Australia (54) has the second lowest ranking of all the teams that will be participating, with only Angola (60) below it. However Australia-s position should rise in the next rankings release given its win over Uruguay.

The task facing Australia in Germany is a huge one, but given its performance in getting past the 17th ranked Uruguayans, considered one of the toughest teams to beat in the world, Guus Hiddink and the players have every reason to be confident they can cause an upset or two.