The Socceroos will face Japan and Saudi Arabia as the headline acts of the third round in their quest to play at the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Asian qualification will see at least eight, and potentially nine teams move through to the World Cup this time around under a new format which has expanded the tournament from 32 to 48 teams.

After the second round of qualification - where the Socceroos won all six of their games in a home and away round robin against Bangladesh, Lebanon and Palestine - Australia were placed in Pot 2 of 6 (based on World Rankings) - for the third round draw.

Drawn in Group C, Australia will have to play Japan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Bahrain, China and Indonesia on their route to the World Cup.

Group A sees Iran and Qatar as the top team, joined by Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan and North Korea, while Group B is headlined by South Korea and Iraq who are joined by Jordan, Oman, Palestine and Kuwait.

Each team will play the other five teams in their group both home and away during this round, with matchdays taking place between September this year and June next year.

At the conclusion of that, the top two teams from each group proceed directly to the World Cup, while the next two teams in each group go through to a fourth round to play two other teams home and away.

The winners of the two fourth round groups also proceed to the World Cup, while the two second-placed teams during the fourth round go to a fifth round, with the winner of that then making an inter-confederational play-off against teams from around the World for the final spot at the World Cup.

Here are the groups. The numbers in brackets are the nation's world ranking.

Group A

1. Iran (20th)
2. Qatar (35th)
3. Uzbekistan (62nd)
4. United Arab Emirates (69th)
5. Kyrgyzstan (101th)
6. North Korea (110th)

Group B

1. South Korea (22nd)
2. Iraq (55th)
3. Jordan (68th)
4. Oman (76th)
5. Palestine (95th)
6. Kuwait (137th)

Group C

1. Japan (17th)
2. Australia (23rd)
3. Saudi Arabia (56th)
4. Bahrain (81st)
5. China (88th)
6. Indonesia (134th)