fifa world cup
Artists perform on stage as 'Saudi Arabia' is displayed on screens during the Final Draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup football tournament at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow on December 1, 2017MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty

IF a team like Italy can struggle to make it to the FIFA World Cup finals, as do teams like Chile and Netherlands, well, you can never write off some surprises and miracles happening in the biggest football tournament of the world.

Russia 2018 can turn out to be a game-changer for the Asian football nations, if we look into that thing called hope!

Complete fixtures of FIFA World Cup 2018

There are five representatives from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the FIFA World Cup 2018 -- Australia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea. All these teams have the potential to reach the final, provided they work up a miracle in the group stages and the subsequent knockouts phase!

Here are our predictions:

Group A: Winners - Russia | Runners-up - Saudi Arabia/Egypt
Group B: Winners - Spain | Runners-up - Portugal/Iran
Group C: Winners - France | Runners-up - Australia
Group D: Winners - Argentina | Runners-up - Croatia
Group E: Winners - Brazil | Runners-up - Switzerland
Group F: Winners - Germany | Runners-up - Mexico/South Korea
Group G: Winners - England | Runners-up - Belgium
Group H: Winners - Poland | Runners-up - Colombia/Japan

NOTE: All the Asian teams turning out to be the runners-up from their respective groups may not be a very difficult challenge, except for Iran (Group B).

Last 16 prediction

Russia vs Portugal/Iran
France vs Croatia
Brazil vs Mexico/South Korea
England vs Colombia/Japan
Spain vs Saudi Arabia/Egypt
Argentina vs Australia
Germany vs Switzerland
Poland vs Belgium

NOTE: Realistically, even if the Asian teams qualify to this stage (except Iran), we believe they cannot get past this as-tough-as-it-gets phase. Brazil, England, Spain and Argentina surely have the power to trump over South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia and Australia, respectively.

QF prediction

Portugal/Iran vs France
Brazil/South Korea vs England/Japan
Saudi Arabia/Spain vs Australia
Germany vs Belgium

NOTE: We still bank on hope and miracles however...

SF prediction

France/Iran vs South Korea/Japan
Saudi Arabia/Australia vs Germany

Possible all-Asian finals

Iran vs Saudi Arabia
Iran vs Australia
South Korea vs Saudi Arabia
South Korea vs Australia
Japan vs Saudi Arabia
Japan vs Australia