Australia could meet Syria in a World Cup qualifying playoff

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Australia could meet Syria in a World Cup qualifying playoff

Australia's World Cup qualifying path could include a home-and-away match against Syria if an automatic berth is not achieved.

To book a spot in Russia, the Socceroos need to defeat Thailand in Melbourne on Tuesday and hope Japan don't lose to Saudi Arabia in Jeddah - with the latter on the same amount of points but holding a plus-2 goal difference advantage.

Finishing third in group B will mean Ange Postecoglou's side will have to qualify for next year's tournament through two playoffs, the first of which is against third position in group A - currently Syria on 12 points.

South Korea (second on 14 points) and Uzbekistan (fourth on 12 points) play each other on the final matchday and could also be potential opponents for the Socceroos.

Syria's final qualifying match is away against Iran and even if they go down to the group champions, a victory by the South Koreans will see them stay in third position.

Because of the current conflict besieging the nation, Syria have been playing their home games in Malaysia - a shorter trip for Australia than both Uzbekistan and South Korea.

If a two-leg playoff against an Asian side is negotiated, the Socceroos will then face a home-and-away tie against the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying - currently Honduras.

The US and Panama are also possible opponents, with CONCACAF teams still having three matches to play until qualifying is complete.