The final two spots for the FIFA World Cup in Russia will be determined by two inter-confederation play-off matches.
A side each from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) and Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) will be represented, with the draw for the order of matches (home and away legs) having taken place in July.
4th placed CONCACAF side Honduras have drawn AFC side Australia, who qualified for the inter-confederation play-off by knocking off Syria in the fourth round of AFC qualifying.
A final day victory over already-qualified group leaders Mexico was enough to catapult Honduras into a World Cup play-off spot. Honduras haven’t had the steadiest of qualifying campaigns, enduring the ignominy of losing 6-0 to the USA in March, but have done enough to keep themselves in the hunt for three World Cup Finals appearances in a row.
A somewhat similarly turbulent qualifying campaign for Australia has led them to the play-off stages after losing out on direct qualification to Japan and Saudi Arabia and, despite seeing off Syria in the two-legged fourth round match, have been dealt a further blow with news of coach Ange Postecoglou’s decision to walk away in November.
Honduras will play the first leg at home on November 6 before the return leg in Sydney on November 14.
In the other inter-confederation play-off, OFC representative New Zealand take on CONMEBOL’s 5th placed side, Peru.
New Zealand are familiar with inter-confederation play-off matches, having played against Mexico for a spot in the 2014 World Cup and Bahrain in the 2010 World Cup, coming out on top against the latter opponent to appear in only their second World Cup in 2010.
Meanwhile, Peru have waited a painfully long time to appear at a World Cup, their last coming in 1982. They finished the qualifying campaign as one of the in-form teams, going undefeated in their final six matches (which included clashes against Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia) and will hope to carry that form over when they meet New Zealand on November 6 in Wellington.
The return leg takes place November 14 in Lima.