Asian Cup winners Australia

Your guide to the Socceroos Asian Cup opponents

After the FIFA World Cup, the Socceroos will turn their attention towards the 2019 Asian Cup - and there will be some familiar opponents in waiting.

The pool draws have been completed for the Asian Cup, with the Aussies bundled in with Syria, Jordan and Palestine.

While being a seeded team means we dodge the likes of Japan, South Korea and Iran, there are plenty of challenges in this group.

It is an interesting pool, given that Australia only managed to book their place in the World Cup with a last gasp Tim Cahill winner against Syria recently.

And Jordan thumped the Socceroos 2-0 in 2015, meaning just escaping our pool is no fait accompli. Here is how our opponents stack up.

Syria's Asian Cup prospects

Asian Cup rivals Syria

Syria were a tough opponent for Australia to get past in World Cup qualification. They will be formidable at the Asian Cup as well

Ranked 76th in the world and coming from a region in the world ripped apart by conflict, it could be easy to dismiss the Syrians.

But you have to look past the surface to see why they are a genuine threat.

In 2014, Syria was ranked 151 in the world - tangible proof this is a country on the rise in world football.

German coach Bernd Stange is not taking this assignment lightly, either, scouring Syria at significant risk to find the best young players to add to his roster.

He was at the helm for Iraq during 2002-04, right around when Allied forces invaded the Middle Eastern nation.

Ducking bullets and explosions is a lessor fear to him than not putting his best team on the paddock.

For a nation weighed down by war, football is their unifying force. Expect this team to give everything they've got, for every second they are on the paddock.

And also remember they came within an inch of claiming a World Cup spot that Australia ultimately claimed.

Jordan looking to bounce back

This Middle Eastern nation has been in steady decline since 2013, tumbling from 65 in the FIFA rankings to 117.

But Jordan has a history of success against the Aussies, winning 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier in 2012 and again in 2015 when they stunned the Socceroos 2-0.

The other two matches have been decisive Australian victories, but Jordan cannot be underestimated here.

In an Asian Cup that has been expanded to 24 teams, drawing Jordan presents a challenge to the Australians.

Palestine, a dark horse for the Asian Cup?

While Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabi are familiar opponents for the Socceroos, their neighbour to the west has largely flown under our radar.

But Palestine possess a big threat, despite their geographic size. They are 83rd in the FIFA rankings, having surged from 134 in 2015.

They are relatively new on the circuit, having only been officially recognised by FIFA as a world nation in 1998.

Palestine is also a development target for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which has launched a range of projects to improve their national standard.

The last time Australia played any team from Palestine was back in 1939, so this will be a team largely unknown to us.

And with the AFC backing them to succeed, Palestine could be a genuine threat for this Asian Cup.

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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