Socceroos fall to third

Australia’s failure to make it past the group stage of the 2010 World Cup has seen them slip to third in the Asian rankings for 2014 qualification.

The change in rankings means the Socceroos will likely have a tougher path to the 2014 tournament in Brazil when the groups for the initial qualification stage are announced in July.

The rankings differ from the current FIFA rankings, which have Japan on top (17th overall) from Australia (21) and then Korea Republic (32).

The path through Asia is exactly the same as it was in 2010 with the top 20 teams grouped into five groups of four. The top two from each group then go through to the final group qualification stage which features two groups of five.

Last time Australia were put in a pot which separated them from other top-ranked sides, and were given an initial group featuring Iraq, China and Qatar.

This time round, top seed Japan and second seed South Korea, who both made it through to the second round of last year’s World Cup, cannot be in the same group as the Socceroos, nor can fourth-ranked North Korea or fifth-ranked Bahrain.

Asia will have 46 countries competing for a spot in the 2014 World Cup. Teams outside the top five have to endure a two-legged knockout stage to determine if they progress to the initial group stage.