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AFC open to World Cup qualification merger

Australia already participate in AFC qualifying and New Zealand have expressed a desire to join their neighbours.

Yet Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has revealed talks have taken place regarding a proposal to combine Asia’s qualifying slots with those of Oceania.

At present, four AFC teams gain automatic qualification to the World Cup finals, with a fifth entering a play-off against a team from South America.

The winner of Oceania qualifying also participates in a play-off, versus opposition from the North, Central America and Caribbean section, but that scenario could yet change.

In quotes reported by the Guardian, Shaikh Salman said: "We had the Australians in but I think we should look at how can we combine our slot together.

"This is something that we're discussing with Oceania and hopefully we come to an agreement on how those legs are to be played, because I think geographically we're much closer and on a technical basis we're level or on the same par."

Jordan and New Zealand gained play-off places in the latest World Cup qualifying campaign, but each suffered heavy defeats at the hands of Uruguay and Mexico respectively.