Analysing Thailand's possible opponents in final World Cup qualifying round

Thailand will find out who their opponents in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers are on Tuesday but before that, John Duerden explains how the draw could shape out for the War Elephants... 

The draw for the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup takes place on Tuesday afternoon in  Kuala Lumpur.  

There are twelve Asian nations waiting to find out their fate as they are placed into two groups of six, with the top two from each being rewarded with a place in Russia.

Thailand are the sole survivors from Southeast Asia and are flying the flag high for the region, its first representatives in the final round since 2002.

Kiatisuk Senamuang's men did not just squeeze through the second round as one of the best runners-up, they won their group above Iraq – a fine feat that should give them plenty of confidence for what comes next.

The draw is seeded and the dozen hopefuls have been divided into six pots of two teams according to FIFA rankings.

Thailand are placed in pot six – the lowest seed section – along with Syria, the only team that coach Zico's men know they will not have to face.

With the stakes high and the excitement higher, FourFourTwo takes a look at some possible scenarios that are lying in wait for the War Elephants.

The Blockbuster

(Drawing Australia, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar)

For excitement, big-name presence and glamour, this could be the best outcome for Thailand.

Australia are Asian champions and fans will surely be intrigued by this fixture. The physical challenge offered by Tim Cahill and the Socceroos is something Thailand rarely face in their own Asean backyard and it would be interesting to see how they fare.

Tim Cahill will represent a great challenge for Thailand to overcome.

There's little to choose between South Korea and Japan in the second pot but the presence of Shinji Okazaki in the team would be a big draw. The striker,  who has just racked up his 100th cap for the Samurai Blue, has played a major role in Thai-owned Leicester City's amazing challenge for the English Premier League title. He would have the Bangkok media flocking to him.

United Arab Emirates have the golden generation that are desperate to qualify for a World Cup before it is too late. Omar Abdulrahman is one of the biggest names in Asian football and the bushy-haired playmaker would, hopefully show everyone in Thailand, a little of his class.

Saudi Arabia may not be the powerhouse of old but there is the draw card of a big-name coach in Bert Van Marwijk. Young Thai coach Kiatisuk Senamuang would surely love the chance to pit his tactical wits against a man who has made the World Cup final. The Bangkok media will lap it up too.

And then there's the rematch with Iraq. The Lions of Mesopotamia perhaps underestimated Thailand in the last round and were seriously annoyed to miss out on top spot in the group after the two 2-2 draws.

There is now some history and perhaps even a little needle between the two nations and that is to be welcomed.

(Read Pg 2 for more)