They know where they're going and in the early hours of December 2 they will know who they're playing. With all 32 nations competing in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Socceroos are one step closer to learning their fate after confirmation of their seeding in the tournament's pots for the draw that will take place in the Kremlin in Moscow in a fortnight.
Australia have a strong chance of receiving a tough draw in their fifth appearance at a World Cup after being seeded in the lowest group, Pot 4. FIFA confirmed the seedings on Thursday afternoon after Peru defeated New Zealand to claim the last seat on the plane to Russia with a new draw process that is based on world rankings rather than confederation and regional groupings.
Once the draw is made in Moscow, Australia will ramp up their preparations for the World Cup where everything from transport, facilities and warm-up games will be finalised within a 48-hour window. Already it appears the Socceroos will reportedly be based on the banks of the Volga river in the central city of Kazan.
In the background of the World Cup draw will be a trading floor frenzy between national football federations trying to cash in on qualification by making deals for high-profile "farewell" friendly games. It's not just the 32 nations that will be attending, but several of those who failed to qualify but are eager to negotiate games with competing teams. It's understood representatives of the US will be in attendance, with Italy, too, set to attract a high fee for their services.
Australia have already received a flurry of offers for games in their March international window as well as the three spots in late May and June before the tournament. However, they will await the group draw before finalising deals in order to lock in opponents that offer the best preparation for the countries they will face in Russia.
The Socceroos' friendly game at home will be shopped around the country with the FFA inviting state governments to bid on the last games before the 2018 World Cup. Iran were touted as a potential opposition for a March friendly but having qualified months before Australia, they're understood to be close to sealing a deal for another friendly game in that international window. Australia are now turning their attention towards non-AFC nations.
"We don't have any concrete plans but obviously we've been thinking about the next window, March and who we're able to play and then there's the prospect of things like a farewell game on home soil. We'll sit down over the next couple of weeks and try to map that out as well. I imagine there will be plenty of government interest in trying to secure those games," FFA chief executive David Gallop said.
It's understood Football Federation Australia will look to play the March friendly at home but there's a possibility of a World Cup farewell game not being played in Australia. The last two farewell games attracted low-key opponents in South Africa and New Zealand and did not prove financially beneficial. Sources suggest a farewell game will only be played in Australia in the event of attracting a high-profile nation that has not qualified for the World Cup.
"Unashamedly we look for a good return and we've got good competition between the state governments for these types of games. At the same time, we've always said we want to take the Socceroos around the country to make sure that fans across the nation see them," Gallop said.
World Cup Draw.
POT 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Belgium, Poland, France, Portugal, Argentina.
POT 2: Spain, Switzerland, England, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, Croatia, Peru
POT 3: Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran, Costa Rica,
POT 4: Australia, Serbia, Nigeria, Japan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Panama, South Korea.