Australia will miss the Olympic football tournament for the first time since 1984 after their blunt attack flopped again in a 1-0 loss to United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.
The Olyroos needed a win on Thursday morning (AEDT) to at least stay in the hunt for the playoffs involving the three second-placed teams in the Asian qualifying groups.
Once again, Australia were toothless in attack and have the ignominious distinction of failing to score a goal after five group games.
The loss left Australia bottom of their four-team group, trailing second placed Uzbekistan by five points with one game to play against Iraq in Gosford on March 14.
A win would lift them off the bottom and into third above Iraq, who upset previously unbeaten Uzbekistan 2-1 in the other penultimate round game.
The Olyroos created some decent chances, especially in the first half before UAE scored the only goal of the game.
Mate Dugandzic clipped the crossbar and Aaron Mooy and captain Oliver Bozanic each had a shot saved.
The only goal came midway through the first half, when goalkeeper Matthew Ryan was beaten at his near post by a speculative shot from near the byline following a short corner routine.
Moments earlier Ryan had pulled off two good saves from a free kick and follow-up effort.
Unbeaten UAE, who now lead the group by three points, went close a couple of times just before the hour mark.
The home team were content to protect their lead in the final quarter and just launched the occasional attack.
Australia had a decent share of possession in the second half, but created few chances due to consistently poor delivery into the area from both set pieces and open play.
Mooy blazed high and wide with just over 10 minutes to go, as the Olyroos’ painful goal drought continued.