Australia could face Syria in Middle East for 2018 World Cup playoff

Australia's path to the 2018 World Cup could get even tougher with next month's qualifying playoff against Syria likely to be played in the Middle East, instead of Malaysia.

Syria have not played on home soil since 2010 due to the ongoing conflict and staged all of their third-round Asian qualifiers in Malaysia, where it was anticipated they would play host to Australia on Oct. 5.

But it's understood there are moves being made by Syria's football association to ensure the clash will be held in either Jordan, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates instead of on Australia's doorstep in Southeast Asia.

Reports suggest that Abu Dhabi is the frontrunner.

Football Federation Australia is eagerly awaiting the venue announcement from the Asian Football Confederation, with official word expected by Tuesday.

"We haven't heard anything officially but we're also watching to see when the venue will be confirmed," FFA chief executive David Gallop said.

The return leg, on Oct. 10, is locked in for ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

The Socceroos have traditionally struggled in West Asia, and have won just two of their last five qualifiers in the region.

However, the most recent victory was one of Australia's best performances in recent memory, beating the UAE 1-0 in steaming conditions in Abu Dhabi last November.

The winners of the two-legged clash between Australia and Syria will take on North and Central America's fourth-best team in another play-off for a spot at Russia 2018.