Sport Football FIFA World Cup 2018: Socceroos draw tough pool for Russia 2018
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Socceroos draw tough pool for Russia 2018

FIFA World Cup 2018 final draw
Former Argentine great Diego Maradona at the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia at the State Kremlin Palace on December 1. Photo: Getty
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The Socceroos will start their 2018 World Cup campaign against former champions and tournament fancies France, with group matches to follow against Denmark and Peru.

Australia has avoided another group of death in Russia, but will be doing well to reach the knockout rounds after being drawn against three teams ranked in the world’s top 12 nations.

France are the most formidable opponents.

Les Bleus are ranked as one of the favourites in 2018 – behind only Germany and Brazil – and were responsible for knocking out heavyweights the Netherlands in qualifying.

But the Socceroos will rate their chances of progressing past both Peru (world No.11) and Denmark (12) given their struggles to reach Russia.

Denmark finished second in their European group behind Poland, losing to minnows Montenegro at home.

They eventually qualified with a play-off win over Ireland.

Peru finished fifth out of 10 teams in South American qualifying, defeating New Zealand in a play-off to book their place at a first World Cup since 1982.

Australia, without a coach after Ange Postecoglou’s resignation last month, needed two play-offs of their own to progress to a fourth-straight tournament.

But they will be buoyed by the draw, which is more manageable than their task four years ago: heavyweights Chile, 2010 finalists the Netherlands and Spain, the team who beat the Dutch to lift the trophy in South Africa.

Russia 2018 FIFA world cup draw
The full Final Draw for the 2018 World Cup. Photo: UEFA.com

Several Socceroos took to Twitter to respond, using flexed muscle emojis to show their readiness to fight.

The top two nations in the four-team group qualify for the round of 16.

The draw will also please the Socceroos’ backroom crew, given the opening game match against France is in Australia’s training base of Kazan.

The Socceroos can also draw upon memories of a win against France.

Under coach Frank Farina, Clayton Zane scored the only goal of the game against the then-world champions at the 2001 Confederations Cup.

The last meeting went less well, particularly for then Socceroos coach Holger Osieck.

Osieck was sacked in the aftermath of a 6-0 drubbing in Paris in 2013, to be replaced by Ange Postecoglou.

In great news for armchair viewers, the Socceroos will kick off their tournament at 8pm on Saturday, June 16.

The second match against Denmark takes place on June 22 at 1am (AEST) before the group stage finale against Peru at midnight on June 27.

Should Australia replicate their best result at a World Cup – in 2006 – and reach the knockout stage, they will play either Argentina, Iceland, Croatia or Nigeria.

– AAP

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