Qatar World Cup: Uruguay rematch, Socceroos’ FIFA World Cup task just got smooth harder

The Socceroos’ road to the Qatar FIFA World Cup has become even more difficult as Asia’s play-off winners were drawn in a sudden-death qualification match against a South American squad. FIFA held the intercontinental play-offs draw on Saturday morning (AEDT), and the result has highlighted the importance of Australia securing automatic qualification.

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It means that if the Socceroos finish third in Group B and defeat the other third-placed team in Asia’s other group – presently the United Arab Emirates – they would likely face Peru, Colombia, Chile, or Uruguay in a one-off match for a place in the Football World Cup on June 13 or 14. Graham Arnold would have preferred Asia to face a friendlier play-off opponent, such as Oceania’s top squad or CONCACAF’s fourth-placed team.

Now that Asia’s play-off winners have been paired with CONMEBOL’s fifth-placed squad, Arnold and his players will be even more determined to avoid the intercontinental route and unseat either Japan or Saudi Arabia, the group’s top two teams. For more to know about FIFA World Cup Tickets Click here

The good news is that they still have control of their destiny: they’ll need to beat not only Vietnam (at home) and Oman (on the road) in the next international window, but also Japan (at home) or Saudi Arabia (on the road) to ensure a top-two finish and direct qualification for the FIFA World Cup. The third-place Asian play-off and the intercontinental play-off would normally be split into two legs, one at home and one away.

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Due to the scheduling challenges posed by the pandemic, FIFA confirmed last week that both matches will be single-legged and held at a neutral venue – so even if the Socceroos were to win their way back to a rematch with Uruguay, there will be no repeat of the scenes from November 2005 at a packed Stadium Australia, where John Aloisi’s famous penalty ended the country’s 32-year FIFA World Cup drought.

Last time under Ange Postecoglou, the Socceroos were obliged to go the intercontinental route, but they were able to confirm their place at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia after defeating Syria and Honduras. When asked about the Socceroos’ qualifying position earlier this week, Football Australia chief executive James Johnson stated he was unconcerned and believed Arnold’s team would qualify directly for the Football World Cup.

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