2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying draw
What does it all mean?
We take a snap shot of the 2010 World Cup Asian qualifying draw that was conducted on last Sunday in Durban, South Africa.
AFC Qualifying Groups (FIFA/AFC Rankings)
Group A - Australia (48/4), China (85/9), Iraq (70/7), Qatar (86/10) Group B - Japan (33/1), Bahrain (101/12), Oman (76/8), Thailand (113/14) Group C - Korea Republic (42/3), DPR Korea (117/15), Jordan (122/17), Turkmenistan (127/18) Group D - Saudi Arabia (57/5), Uzbekistan (64/6), Lebanon (137/24), Singapore (130/20) Group E - Iran (40/2), Kuwait (121/16), UAE (99/11), Syria (109/13)
The top two from each group will advance to the second round of qualifying, where they will be split into two groups of five teams. The top two from these two groups will go automatically through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals, while the two third-placed teams will play-off for the right to meet the Oceania qualification winner. The winner of that play-off will also go through to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.
The seedings for the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments are based purely on the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying and finals performances. Results since then are not taken into account, including this years Asian Cup.
So in the case of Australia-s group, all three opponents were eliminated in the first round of the 2006 qualifiers, which meant their seedings were relatively low. Since then Iraq and Qatar, in particular, have improved immensely, with Iraq, the reigning Asian Champions following their success at the 2007 Asian Cup. China will no doubt be looking to improve on recent poor performances and by the time the qualifiers arrive, will have left no stone unturned in their bid to qualify for the next phase.
We take a look at each of Australia-s opponents in more detail.
FIFA Ranking: 85 AFC Ranking: 9
2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: China got to this stage of qualifying after comfortably beating Myanmar 11-0 on aggregate in their two-legged play-off in October. They won the home leg 7-0 before winning 4-0 a week later in Kuala Lumpur.
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Was the favourite to advance from its group of four to the second round of qualifying. However with only one team advancing, finished behind Kuwait and was eliminated.
2007 AFC Asian Cup: Finished third in their group behind Iran and Uzbekistan. Started with a 5-1 thrashing of co-host Malaysia and most thought they were on track for the quarter finals when they drew 2-2 with group favourite Iran in their next match. However in the third and deciding game, China crumbled to lose 3-0 to Uzbekistan and were eliminated.
Head-to-Head (with Australia): The two countries have met on seven occasions with Australia holding the upper hand with five wins, while China has won twice. In the last meeting between the two countries in March 2007, Australia was too strong winning 2-0 thanks to goals by Brett Holman and Mark Bresciano. This was the first meeting between the two, since 1986.
FIFA Ranking: 70 AFC Ranking: 7
2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Fresh from its Asian Cup triumph, Iraq faced a play-off with Pakistan. The first leg was an easy 7-0 win for Iraq in Lahore, but the return leg saw them held to a 0-0 draw.
2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying: Was considered a decent chance to qualify from its first round group, after its success at the 2004 Athens Olympics. However Uzbekistan finished on top of the group and Iraq was eliminated.
2007 AFC Asian Cup: Iraq claimed their first ever Asian Cup Championship, with their triumph in Djarkta, Indonesia. Came face-to-face in the group phase with Australia, winning 3-1 in what was the shock of the tournament. Started with a 1-1 against co-host Thailand, which didn-t suggest what was to follow. The 3-1 win over the Socceroos made heads turn, although they followed that with a 0-0 against Oman, which was enough to get them top spot and consign Australia to second place. An expected win (2-0) was achieved against Vietnam in the quarter finals and they were now in unchartered territory. They rode their luck in the semi final winning 4-3 in a penalty shootout, having finished 0-0 with Korea Republic. The final against West Asian rival Saudi Arabia, saw captain and inspiration Younes Khalif score the only goal and an unlikely victory.
Head-to-head (with Australia): The two countries have met on four occasions, with Australia leading two wins to one, while one match finished in a 0-0 draw. The last meeting came at the Asian Cup in 2007, with Iraq winning 3-1. Scores were locked at one apiece after Mark Viduka equalized soon after half time, but Iraq handled the conditions much better and re-took the lead and sealed the win late in the match.
FIFA Ranking: 86 AFC Ranking: 10
2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying: Faced an interesting match up with Sri Lanka in its Preliminary play-off. Won the first leg 1-0 away, before completely dominating the home leg with an emphatic 5-0 win.
2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying: Had a tough task to knock over perennial heavyweight Iran and was eliminated in the first round.
2007 AFC Asian Cup: A lot was expected of Qatar at the finals, but in the end they were disappointing. Started well enough with a 1-1 draw against defending Asian Cup Champions Japan. Was expected to beat co-host Vietnam, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw and it was down to a do-or-die game against West Asian rival UAE. A win would have been enough to progress to the quarter finals, but they lost 2-1 and finished last in their group.
Head-to- Head (against Australia): They have never met at senior international level. Only previous meetings between the two countries have been at Under 20 (1 game) and Under 17 (3 games). Last of these meetings was at the FIFA U17 World Cup in New Zealand in 1999, with Australia winning their quarter final clash 1-0.