FIFA world cup qualifiers are being played across all FIFA confederations this weekend to select the best of countries to represent in the FIFA 2018 world cup. The Asia Football Federation (AFC) have 4 direct slots to represent in Russia 2018 and currently qualifiers are ongoing to select the various 4 countries and submit one country for the intercontinental playoffs.
In the article SportsGoogly will highlight the method and procedures for selections 4 direct countries and 1 country for playoff to the world cup out of the 46 affiliated countries. The Asian Football Federation have a very strict and complicated qualifications procedure which is aimed at selecting the best out of the 46 countries to represent them.
Format of the world qualifications:
First Round: A total of 12 teams ranked from 35–46 on the FIFA rankings will play home and away over two legs . The six winners will advance to the second round.
Second Round: A total of 40 teams ranking from 1- 34 on the FIFA ranking and six first round winners will be divided into eight groups of five teams to play home and away round robin matches. The eight group winners and the four best group runners up will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualification.
Third Round: The 12 teams which advance from the second round will be divided into two groups of six teams to play home and away round robin matches. The top two teams of each group will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup , and the two third placed teams will advance to the fourth round.
Fourth Round: The two third placed teams of each group from the third round will play home and away over two legs. The winner will advance to the inter confederation playoffs.
In order to determine which nations would compete in the first round and which nations would receive a bye through to the second round, the FIFA World Rankings of January 2015 was used, as that was the latest published rankings prior to the first round draw. The FIFA Rankings of January 2015 were also used for seeding of the first round draw. However, for seeding in the second round and third round draws, the most recent FIFA Rankings prior to those draws will be used.
MATCHDAY 4( 11 October)
Australia vs Japan
The Australia and Japan game will be a the topnotch game of Group B with Australia and Japan being the favorite countries to qualify. The Blue Samurai of Japan is currently on third position with 6 points and Japan is poised to get a direct qualification to the world cup and to get a direct qualification Japan must be in the top two. Japan is traveling to Australia in this epic game and if Japan lose this game their chances of getting a direct qualification will retrogress with Saudi Arabia in good form and second position. Australia and Japan have met 23 times with Australia winning 6, drawing 9 and Japan winning 8. In AFC world cup qualifiers Australia and Japan have met 4 times with Australia winning 1, drawing 3 and Japan have never won a game in world cup qualifiers against Japan. Australia have hosted Japan 10 times at home with Australia winning 4, drawing 3 and Japan winning 3. Japan have travelled 2 times to Australia in AFC world cup qualifying games and have never won a game, drawing 1 and losing 1. In the 2010 world cup qualifiers Australia and Japan were in Group A and when Japan visited Austria, Australia won by two goals to one. In the 2014 world cup qualifiers, Australia and Japan were in Group B and when Japan visited, they drew with Australia. In the last 5 games both countries have played, Japan have won 3 and drawn 2. Japan is very strong especially against Australia but visiting Australia is is always very difficult for Japan. Japan is very poised and determined but Australia is highly tipped to win this mouth watery encounter.
Iraq vs Thailand
Iraq and Thailand have not won a point in the third round of the world cup qualifiers after 3 games. The chances of both Iraq and Thailand to qualify to Russia 2018 are highly limited. Iraq and Thailand have met 11 times with Iraq winning 4, drawing 5 and Thailand winning 2. In world cup qualifiers Thailand have never won a game against Iraq in 4 games with Iraq winning 1 and drawing 3. In Iraq, Thailand have never won a game in 3 visits with Iraq winning winning 2 and drawing 1. The first time Thailand visited Iraq in world cup qualifiers was in the round up to the 2002 world cup where Iraq trashed Thailand by 4 goals to zero. The second and last time Thailand visited Iraq in world cup qualifiers was in the second round on the Russia 2018 world cup where Iraq drew with Thailand at him. In the last 5 games between Iraq and Thailand, Thailand have won 2 and drawn 3. The current form between these two countries shows that Thailand can for the first time win at Iraq. Will it be the same old story, or the books will be rewritten. The game between Iraq and Thailand will promise a lot of action.
Uzbekistan vs China
Uzbekistan have started the third round of the world cup qualifiers strongly with 6 points in 3 games and will be seeking to secure another 3 points against China. China on the other hand is having a difficult start to the world cup qualifiers and their chances to qualify to Russia 2018 are fading with 1 point on 5 position on the log. Chinese footballing fans staged a protest after the China national team lost at home to war torn Syria and China is seeking to win this Uzbekistan game away to appease their fans back home. Uzbekistan and China have met on 11 occasions with Uzbekistan winning 5, drawing 2 and China winning 4. In world cup qualifiers both countries 2 times with Uzbekistan winning 1 and losing 1. China have visited Uzbekistan once in the world cup qualifiers and Uzbekistan won that fixture. In the last 5 meetings, Uzbekistan have won 2, drawn 1 and lost 2. China is more desperate to win this fixture but Uzbekistan is more solid and composed to win this encounter.
Iran vs South Korea
Iran and South Korea is the topnotch game in group A with both on 7 points leading the table. Both countries are the favorites to get direct qualification to the world cup. Iran and South Korea have met 22 times with Iran winning 9, drawing 6 and South Korea winning 7. In world cup qualifiers both countries have met 5 times with Iran winning 2, drawing 2 and South Korea winning 1. Iran have hosted South Korea on 7 occasions with Iran winning 3, drawing 2 and South Korea winning 2. In world cup qualifiers, South Korea have visited Iran 3 times with Iran winning 1, drawing 1 and South Korea winning 1. In the 2014 world cup qualifiers, both countries were in group A and when Iran played at home to South Korea they defeated South Korea by one goal to nothing. In the round up to the 2010 world cup both met again and South Korea travelled to draw with Iran. The first time Iran played at home with South Korea in a world cup was in the round down of 1994 world cup which South Korea travelled to trash Iran at home by 3 goals to nothing. This fixture is huge and South Korea plays good at Iran but this game is likely to end in a draw.
Qatar vs Syria
Qatar is having no point after playing 3 games and they are hoping to secure their first 3 points from in form Syria who shocked China at home over this weekend playing away. Syria will travel once again on the world cup qualification trail to Qatar to face the Qatar. Qatar and Syria have met on 9 occasions with Qatar winning 4, drawing 2 and Syria winning 3. In world cup qualifiers Qatar and Syria have met once with Qatar being the victor. At home Qatar have hosted Syria on 4 occasions with Qatar winning 3 and losing 1. In world cup qualifiers Syria have visited once and they lost to Qatar. In their last 5 meetings, Qatar have won 2 drawn 1 and lost 2. The first and only time these two countries met was in the round up to the 1982 world cup where Syria visited Qatar on 27 March 1981, Qatar defeated Syria by 2-1. Since 1981 Syria is visiting Qatar in yet another mouth watery encounter. Syria have being devastated by war and had a terrible preparations towards this qualifiers, Syria have chosen Macau as their home ground due to war back home. Syria after shocking China have being a treat to any country and if Syria is able to implicate same performance in Qatar, they shall win conveniently despite playing away.
Saudi Arabia vs United Arab Emirates
Saudi Arabia is seeking to make its first appearance in the world cup after many years of absence and will be facing fellow Arabic counterparts United Arab Emirates. Saudi Arabia is on the second position with 7 points and United Arab Emirates is on fourth position with 6 points. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have met 17 times with Saudi Arabia winning 11, drawing 4 and losing 2. In world cup qualifiers, both Arab countries have met 7 times with Saudi Arabia winning 3 drawing 3 and United Arab Emirates winning 1. At home Saudi Arabia have hosted their counterparts on 9 occasions with Saudi Arabia winning 7 drawing 1 and losing 1. United Arab Emirates have visited Saudi Arabia 3 times in world cup qualifiers and UAE have never won a world cup qualifying game at Saudi Arabia drawing one and losing two. In their last 5 meetings, Saudi Arabia have won 4 and drawn 1 this signifies Saudi Arabia’s strength against United Arab Emirates. On 8 November 2015, United Arab Emirates visited Saudi Arabia in the second round of the 2018 world cup qualifiers which Saudi Arabia defeated United Arab Emirates by 2-1. In the round up to the 2010 world cup, United Arab Emirates once again visited Saudi Arabia which they also lost by 3-2 advantage to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is very strong playing against United Arab Emirates at home. Saudi Arabia is highly favoured to win this Arabic fixture.
1. Iran 7 points
2. South Korea 7 points
3. Uzbekistan 6 points
4. Syria 4 points
5. China 1 point
6. Qatar 0 points
1. Australia 7 points
2. Saudi Arabia 7 points
3. Japan 6 points
4. United Arab Emirates 6 points
5. Iraq 0 points
6. Thailand 0 points