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Hell draw for Aussies, easier for Japan, Korea, Iran

07 Dec 2013 01:31:54

Hell draw for Aussies, easier for Japan, Korea, Iran

Australia put a brave face on being plunged into a World Cup "group of death" Saturday as Asian rivals Japan, South Korea and Iran welcomed easier assignments in Brazil.

The Socceroos, the World Cup's lowest-ranked side at 59, insisted they could pull off some surprises after being drawn with holders Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in Group B.

Asian champions Japan drew Colombia, Ivory Coast and Greece in Group C, while South Korea drew Russia, Belgium and Algeria in Group H. Iran are bracketed with Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria in Group F.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou admitted his team would be the underdogs in Group B, but hoped they would seize their chance to write some positive headlines next year.

"Everyone will be writing us off in this group, which is I think is logical," Postecoglou told Australian broadcaster SBS at the draw ceremony in Salvador de Bahia.

"But from our perspective we've some great opportunities to show the world we can play some good football against the best nations in the world.

"Our group looks the most difficult group but I hope it's the group that plays the best football and we'll play our part in that. We've got a chance to make some headlines when the World Cup comes around."

Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni admitted he was glad to have avoided Europe's heavyweights in Group C. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the knock-out stages.

"We could have had a tougher draw, and we could have an easier one," Zaccheroni said, according to Kyodo news agency.

"We've got one of the strongest South American teams (Colombia) who are also one of the favourites for the tournament, and probably the best African side in the field (Ivory Coast)."

"On the other hand, we didn't draw a big European team so maybe it balances out. But we're not underestimating Greece by any stretch of the imagination; they played really well against Romania recently."

Iran's coach Carlos Queiroz was glad just to have reached the final draw after a tortuous qualifying campaign which went down to the wire.

"For us, qualification was hell, so being in this group now is like heaven," said the former Manchester United assistant.

"For my players, it should be an honour to play against these rivals and it is important they go out and enjoy every minute of every match, eager to make it to the second round.

"Facing Argentina at the Maracana? Let's hope we can give Argentina a headache."

And Hong Myung-Bo said South Korea couldn't afford to think they would have it easy against highly talented Belgium, physical Russia and Algeria.

"South Korean fans may not be too familiar with Belgium, but I think they will be an even better team next year," said the coach in Brazil, according to Yonhap news agency.

"Russia is a team of physical and skilled players and Algeria is also a strong team. There is never an easy group at World Cups, and we can't afford to think that we've ended up in one."

Australia start their campaign against Chile on June 13, Japan are in action the following day against Ivory Coast and Iran play Nigeria on June 16. South Korea get underway against Russia on June 17.

burs/th/st


AFP

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