The Road to Russia has been set for the Socceroos.

Australia’s national side will play two FIFA World Cup qualifiers on home soil and will play three matches overseas in 2016 in their quest to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia. A further five qualifiers will be played in 2017 with the Socceroos hosting three matches in Australia and two in opposition territory.

The Socceroos will play two vital matches at home throughout 2016, including a mouth-watering match up with one of the side’s fiercest rivals, Japan, at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium on October 11.

But before the two sides can renew hostilities, the Socceroos must face Iraq at Perth’s rectangular stadium on September 1 as well as two away games against the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Following the game in Melbourne against Japan, the Socceroos will travel to Thailand to play the local side.

As always, World Cup qualifiers see each team play their opponents twice – once at home and once on the road. The 2017 matches will take place right up until September, but no venues have been announced for those games.

Japan is the highest ranked team in Australia’s qualification group, but the Socceroos are breathing down the neck of the Samurai Blue. The match between the two sides will be enormous with a huge crowd expected to fill the roofed Etihad Stadium.

The two sides have enjoyed a solid rivalry recently, which really started during the 2006 FIFA World Cup when Australia defeated Japan 3-1 in what was the Socceroos’ first ever victory at a World Cup. The victory helped Australia to progress to the knock-out stage, sending Japan home winless.

But the Japanese side got revenge in 2007, booting Australia from the Asian Cup in a penalty shoot-out. The two were pitted against each other in the final of the 2011 Asian Cup final with Japan taking the points in extra time.

The qualifier at Etihad Stadium promises to be an epic contest. Matches between these two sides are notoriously competitive and hard-fought (their two qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup both ended in 1-1 draws).

September’s content between the Socceroos and Iraq at the Perth Rectangular Stadium will be equally important. The Aussies will be eager to begin their campaign for the next World Cup as positively as possible and will be looking to capitalise on every opportunity they have to play on home soil.

The rectangular stadium in Perth is an ideal place to watch soccer and it is expected fans will be out in force to cheer the local side to a hopeful victory.

The Socceroos have a heavy travelling schedule in 2016, playing Iraq at the Perth Rectangular Stadium on September 1 followed by a match in the UAE on September 6. The team will then play in Saudi Arabia on October 6, before heading to Melbourne to play Japan on October 11. The first round of qualifiers will be completed after a match in Thailand on November 15.

It is a hard slog, but the Socceroos have proven in the past they are more than up for the challenge, qualifying for the past three World Cups in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Ticketmaster is very proud to be associated with Australia’s national soccer side and is excited to be providing ticketing services for both the team’s World Cup qualifiers in 2016. Tickets for the two World Cup qualifiers are now on sale.

The two events are expected to be extremely popular and we are excited to be sharing in the Socceroos’ hopeful journey to the Russian World Cup in 2018.

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