Iran looms for Roos in WC qualifying draw

·2-min read

The Socceroos could be pitted against Iran for the first time since 1997's World Cup qualification playoff when the draw for the third and final stage of qualifying for Qatar 2022 is held on Thursday.

Australia infamously blew a 2-0 lead in the second-leg of their playoff for a spot at the 1998 World Cup against the Iranians at the MCG, with the visitors making the most of a second-half disruption by serial pest Peter Hore to win the tie on away goals after a 2-2 draw.

Since then, despite Australia's move to the Asian confederation in the mid-2000s, the nations have not played each other.

That could all change when the groups are drawn by the AFC for the final stage of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Australia, who topped their second phase group with a perfect eight wins from eight matches, have been placed in pot two for the draw alongside South Korea.

It means Graham Arnold's team will face either Japan or Iran in their group, with the two top-ranked Asian teams placed in pot one.

The top two nations from the six-team groups qualify automatically for next year's World Cup with the third-place teams in each group to face each other in a single-match playoff.

The winner of that playoff progresses to a two-legged playoff against a team from a different confederation for a place in Qatar.

As well as Japan or Iran, Australia can potentially face Saudi Arabia or the UAE, Iraq or China, Oman or Syria and Vietnam or Lebanon in their group.

The other big issue for Arnold to contend with will be the location of the fixtures.

The Socceroos coach is desperate for Australia to host at least some of the matches after finishing their second phase group in a bubble in Kuwait but COVID restrictions may mean the games are again played in a tournament-style format at a centralised venue.

Thursday's draw will be held from 5pm AEST.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting