Socceroos World Cup qualifying fate awaits

The Socceroos’ path to the 2018 FIFA World Cup could see Australia venture to tropical islands, desert nations, war-torn countries or urban metropolises.

And it will be known on Tuesday evening when the qualifying draw is made.

In a revamped qualifying structure, Australia could venture to some of Asia’s furthest corners during the initial group stage.

A total of 40 teams, seeded according to world rankings, will be drawn into groups of five for a home and away round-robin.

After the Asian Cup success, Australia will miss out on matches against fellow Asian powerhouses after being placed in pot one.

However rematches with Asian Cup opponents Oman and Kuwait are possible.

There are logistical nightmares that Football Federation Australia would prefer to avoid, including trips across the continent to the Middle East or the isolationist state of North Korea.

Meetings with strife-ridden Yemen or Syria would almost certainly take place in a neutral venue.

But few Socceroos would turn down the chance for a getaway to the Maldives or Guam.

Teams must finish top of their group, or be one of the four best-ranked runners-up, to qualify for the second ground stage.

Ange Postecoglou’s side will play its first group matches in June 2016.

ROAD TO RUSSIA: AUSTRALIA’S POTENTIAL WORLD CUP QUALIFYING OPPONENTS

One team from each pot will be drawn to generate eight groups.

Pot 1: Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Australia, UAE, Uzbekistan, China, Iraq

Pot 2: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Vietnam, Syria, Kuwait

Pot 3: Afghanistan, Philippines, Palestine, Maldives, Thailand, Tajikistan, Lebanon, India

Pot 4: Timor-Leste, Kyrgyzstan, North Korea, Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Bhutan

Pot 5: Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Yemen, Guam, Laos, Cambodia and Chinese Taipei

DREAM DRAW: Australia, Vietnam, Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong.

TOUGHER TIMES: Australia, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea, Yemen.

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