World Cup 2018 qualifiers: UAE to face Australia, Japan & Saudi Arabia

World Cup 2018 qualifiers: UAE to face Australia, Japan & Saudi Arabia
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Published April 12th, 2016 - 21:04 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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UAE handed tough 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying task
UAE handed tough 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifying task

The UAE face an almighty battle to reach only their second Fifa World Cup finals after being paired with Asian powerhouses Australia and Japan in the final Asian qualifiers for Russia 2018.

Mahdi Ali’s side, who progressed last month as one of the four best runners-up from the penultimate stage, have been drawn in Group B alongside Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Thailand. 

Only the winner and runner-up from this group, along with another, Group A, will progress directly to Russia 2018.

But the UAE's task is a daunting one given that Australia are the Asian champions, Japan are five-time World Cup finalists and Saudi Arabia are ranked above them in the Fifa world rankings.

The UAE progressed to this stage after finishing runners-up to the Saudis in Asian zone Group A.

The Whites, whose only World Cup appearance came in 1990, will begin their campaign against Japan on September 1 and play each of their five rivals home and away until September 5, 2017.

In the other final Asian qualifying pool, Iran, Korea Republic, Uzbekistan, China, Qatar and Syria form Group A.

Realistically, the UAE will be bidding to progress to the Asian play-offs as the third-place team.

The winner of the Asian play-offs  will take on the side that finishes fourth in the fifth round of the Concacaf qualifiers in a two-legged inter-confederation play-off.

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC 2016. All rights reserved.

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