Asia and Oceania Could Merge In World Cup Qualifying

Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman has raised the possibility of the Asian and Oceania Football Confederations merging in order to increase their number of representatives at the World Cup.

The AFC will be represented by Australia, Japan, South Korea and Iran in the 2014 World Cup, while Oceania will be without a representative after New Zealand were convincingly beaten by Mexico in their intercontinental playoff.

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Oceania is the only conference that is not guaranteed an automatic place in the World Cup, with their champion forced to take on the fifth placed side from CONCACAF, while Asia has four guaranteed places and their fifth placegetter in qualification takes on the fifth placegetter in South America.

Australia made the jump from the OFC to the AFC in 2006, subsequently qualifying for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, and Salman revealed that he is open to the possibility of the entire OFC merging into the Asian qualifying region.

“We had the Australians in but I think we should look at how we can combine our slots together,” Salman said.

“This is something that we are discussing with Oceania and hopefully there will be something on how those legs are to be played because geographically we are much closer.

“This is a decision that should be taken by FIFA as well about the half slot, but we will wait, we have time, but this is something that we should look at for the future.

“So far this is just in the beginning stages but I think we need to look at the two continents as a whole.”

FIFA has hinted that they are looking to change the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup, which will be held in Russia, and the Asian and African conferences are expected to be the biggest winners out of any proposed chances.

The 2014 World Cup is still over six months away but the fate of the 32 nations competing in the event will be decided in Brazil next Saturday when the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw is conducted.

The 32 nations have been split into four separate pots; with Australia included in pot two with the other representatives from the AFC as well as the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras from CONCACAF.

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