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Socceroos and Iraq in same group

The Socceroos were drawn in Group A alongside co-hosts Thailand, Oman and Iraq in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup finals to be held in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam . Being seeded meant that the Socceroos were always going to avoid the Asian powerhouses of Japan and South Korea.

I think in this group the Socceroos' main threat will come from Thailand and Iraq. Thailand as hosts are going to have crowd support behind them and they are also going to be familiar with the conditions.

But Thailand didn't play particularly well in the last tournament in China where they finished pointless with just one goal to their name and conceding nine goals in the process. Hence Thailand will have to up their game a lot to be able to qualify for the next round and gain from the home crowd support.

Interestingly, Oman was in the same group with Thailand the last time around in the 2004 Asian Cup in China and their only win came against Thailand. Oman did reasonably well in qualifying but they could only salvage one away win against lowly Pakistan who lost all their matches and this could suggest that they are poor travellers. But this is in a tournament environment and I don't think they will be pushovers.

Iraq topped its group in qualifying and that wasn't an easy group if you consider that in that group was China as well. I think this will be the tricky tie for the Socceroos and one that could potentially cause a few headaches.

Elsewhere, I think that the toughest group must be Group D which brings together co-hosts Indonesia, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Although the hosts may not be particularly strong in this group the other three teams are and I will be watching this group closely.

As the saying goes 'there are no easy games at this level' complacency could be the Socceroos greatest enemy in the effort to bring the Asian Cup home.

I think the real challenge for the Socceroos at group stage will come from Iraq and not Thailand.

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