Asia FIFA World Cup

Indonesia Get Stern Test from World Cup Regulars

The draw for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying third round within the Asian region has been done on June 27th, with Indonesia being the sole Southeast Asian representative in the hat. Shin Tae-yong’s Timnas Garuda were drawn into Group C, where they will face blockbuster ties against not just one, not just two, but three World Cup regulars in the form of Japan, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.

Completing the six-team group were Bahrain and China, both of whom having some degree of history against Indonesia.

Indonesia, who finished second in their second round qualifying group behind Iraq, will travel to Saudi Arabia to take on the Green Falcons on September 5th, before hosting Australia at the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium in Surabaya on September 10th – with the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta being unavailable on that date due to a visit from Pope Francis.

Those who finish first and second in the group will qualify directly into the 2026 World Cup, which will be held jointly by the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Those finishing third and fourth will advance to the fourth round of qualification, while those finishing fifth and sixth will be eliminated.

The top two spots will be predictably contested between the powerhouse trio of Japan, Australia, and Saudi Arabia, with Indonesia’s best bet of qualification is by finishing fourth in their group – a huge challenge considering the pedigree of their opponents.

Shin Tae-yong’s men took on both Japan and Australia in the 2023 AFC Asian Cup and despite performing valiantly against the two giants, Indonesia went down 3-1 and 4-0 to their opponents respectively.

Indonesia last face Saudi Arabia in the qualifying rounds for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, losing 1-0 in Dammam to a late Fahad Al-Muwallad goal in March 2014.

Bahrain infamously crushed an Indonesia team torn apart by internal conflict 10-0 in a World Cup qualifying match back in 2012, while China edged out Indonesia 1-0 in their last meeting during the 2015 Asian Cup qualifiers in 2013.

Elsewhere, Son Heung-min’s South Korea will have regular travels to the Middle East as they were drawn to Group B alongside Iraq, Jordan, Oman, Palestine, and Kuwait, while 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar were drawn to Group A alongside Iran, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, Kyrgyzstan, and North Korea.