Asian powerhouses wary of Thailand after World Cup draw

Nobody is about to underestimate Thailand after the draw for the final round of qualification for the 2018 World Cup was held on Tuesday...

Asian champions Australia and the War Elephants will also take on Japan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in the hunt for a place in Russia.

Thailand will host the Socceroos on November 15 before making the trip down under for the final game of qualification in September 2017.

“We are looking forward to playing Thailand,” Postecoglou told FourFourTwo following the draw.

“It is good from a travel perspective for us to go to Bangkok, but we know that we will have to be at our best in order to get a good result”

Thailand have already made it past some tough opposition in qualifying

Postecoglou, who led Australia to the continental title 15 months ago, also knows that progress has been made in Thailand in recent years.

The two teams met in qualification for the 2014 World Cup when Australia won 1-0 in Thailand and 2-1 at home and Postecoglou is well aware the upcoming games could be just as close.

“Thailand have been improving and we know that their national team is the best in Southeast Asia at the moment. We have to give them full respect as every team in the final round is a strong one.

“Thailand play good football and have a lot of technically good players. “The two games should be exciting for the fans."

The top two teams from each Asian qualifying group will make it to the World Cup.

Japan national team director Shimoda Masahiro expressed similar sentiments, having seen first hand the improvements made by Thailand in recent years.

“We played Thailand at the AFC Under-23 tournament in January,” Masahiro said, referring to Japan's 4-0 victory in Qatar.

“Despite the scoreline, it was a tough game for us, Thailand have some very talented players who have excellent technique. The organisation of the team has improved.

“We will have to be at our best for the game in Thailand.”

A good showing from Thai players could mean that J-League teams will look to recruit from the ranks of Zico's team.

“It is hard to say what will happen,” added Shimoda. “J-League teams are always looking for good players and it will be good for Japanese clubs and Japanese fans to get a close look at the best players in Thailand. Thailand are the strongest in Southeast Asia too.”