The Road to the 2018 World Cup has just become a lot more difficult for the All Whites.

Oceania were this morning drawn to face South America in their playoff for a spot at the World Cup in Russia.

This means that if New Zealand advance through the Oceania qualifiers, they will face the daunting prospect of playing a home and away playoff against the fifth placed South American team to qualify for Russia 2018.

Four of New Zealand's last eight playoffs have been against South American opposition, with the others against two Asian opponents (Iran in 2001 and Bahrain 2009) along with Scotland and Mexico.


It had been expected the route this time would be against Asian opposition, with South America and North America to duel for the other spot.

It was for that reason NZF have been targeting Asian opposition over the last 18 months but that outcome failed to transpire, partly because Fifa have had more pressing matters to attend to.

The Oceania qualifiers will be separated into two groups of four teams - and the top three in each group will advance.

Group A includes New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Tahiti, and either American Samoa, Cook Islands, Samoa or Tonga.

New Zealand is in Group B with Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

The advancing teams are split into two groups for the third round, and the group winners meet in a home-and-away series for the right to meet the fifth-place team from South America in a home-and-away playoff for a berth.

England will face old enemies Scotland in qualifying along with Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Malta in Group F.

World champions Germany have been drawn alongside Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Norway, Azerbaijan and San Marino.


Arguably the toughest group sees 1998 champions France alongside three-time World Cup runners-up the Netherlands and a Sweden side captained by Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

There is also a meeting of two former winners in Group G with Spain and Italy paired with Albania, Israel, Macedonia and Liechtenstein.