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By ESPN Staff

Ambitious Australia begin campaign to host World Cup

SYDNEY, May 18 (Reuters) - Australia is considering lodging a late bid to stage the 2011 Asian Cup as part of an ambitious plan to host soccer's World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) officials want to cash in on the Socceroos' appearance at next month's World Cup in Germany by pushing their claims to hold major events.

FFA chief executive John O'Neill told a news conference on Thursday that Australia wanted to host the Asian Cup to prove they could successfully stage the World Cup.

"We are very ambitious to host major events," O'Neill said. "What we've got to do is establish our credentials so that we can put our hand up to host the World Cup."

The Asian Cup is held every four years. Next year's tournament will be co-staged by Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

The host for the 2011 Asian Cup is expected to be announced next year. Only India and Iran have submitted formal bids.

"We haven't received anything from Australia," an Asian Football Confederation spokeswoman said.

Australia are in the qualifying phase for next year's Asian Cup for the first time after leaving Oceania to join the AFC.

Australia had previously floated the idea of co-hosting the 2018 World Cup with New Zealand but their decision to ditch Oceania made the bid unworkable so they opted to go it alone.

"We would be very keen to give it a crack in 2018, and if that doesn't work to put a stake in the ground for 2022," O'Neill said.

"The World Cup has been to America and Asia, and now it's going to Africa (2010).

"The only area of the world that has missed out is the Pacific."