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Melbourne: Head coach Ange Postecoglou believes the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier between his Australia side and Japan will be one of the most important in the qualifying period and that host city Melbourne will provide the Socceroos with the best opportunity for success as they strive to qualify for Russia 2018.

Australia will face rivals Japan in their third match in the 2018 FIFA World Cup third qualifying round at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne on October 11, 2016, Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced on Wednesday.

The travel plans of the Socceroos, who will first play Saudi Arabia in the West Asian nation on October 6, were also part of the decision-making process.

“The October window is a challenging window in this qualification period as we have a match in Saudi Arabia on October 6 and then have a quick turn around to face Japan back in Australia,” Postecoglou said.

“They are important games and this gives us the best chance of preparing for the two challenges we face within five days.”

Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia are in Group B of Russia 2018's third qualification round alongside the UAE, Iraq and Thailand.

The winner and runner-up of Groups A and B of the third qualification round will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia finals while the third-placed teams of each group will advance to the Asian Play-off Round, with the victorious side taking on the team that finishes fourth in the fifth round of the CONCACAF qualifiers in a two-legged inter-confederation play-off.

Photo: AFP

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