The Socceroos road to a fourth consecutive FIFA World Cup became clearer on Tuesday night following the Asian Football Confederation’s draw for the first stage of qualifying.
Australia were pitted against Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh at the ceremony staged in Kuala Lumpur, after being placed in pot 1 which housed the top eight teams in Asia.
The group winners and four best runners-up from the double round-robin format will advance to the 2019 Asian Cup and the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Matches will be held from June 11, 2015 to March 29, 2016, with the recently crowned Asian Champions to play their first match on home soil against Bangladesh in Perth In September.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said the draw threw up some intriguing match-ups with Australia set to travel and play against countries they’ve never met before in international competition.
“The draw is certainly an interesting one and throws up some games against unfamiliar countries but the first phase of qualifying is about us and making sure we maintain our high standards on and off the field,” said Postecoglou.
“Over the past 18 months we have taken great pride in being the best we can be on and off the field and we will face some logistical and footballing challenges but we will continue to work hard to make sure we are ready for whatever challenges we face.”
Elsewhere Asian Cup finalists Korea Republic have been drawn in Group G alongside Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar and Laos as they seek to book their place at a tenth World Cup.
Draw for round two of AFC qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup:
Group A: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Timor Leste, Malaysia.
Group B: Australia, Jordan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh
Group C: China, Qatar, Maldives, Bhutan, Hong Kong
Group D: Iran, Oman, India, Turkmenistan, Guam
Group E: Japan, Syria, Afhganistan, Singapore, Cambodia
Group F: Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Chinese Taipei
Group G: Korea Republic, Kuwait, Lebanon, Myanmar, Laos
Group H: Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Philippines, DPR Korea, Yemen