Socceroos vs Thailand: World Cup Qualifier preview and prediction

Stuart Thomas Columnist

24 Have your say

    I’ve always admired the pig headedness in Ange Postecoglou. It isn’t necessarily a negative trait in people.

    Sticking to your core beliefs when faced with immense adversity is something that we could all aspire to.

    However, what if the foundation of those core beliefs starts to look a little fragile? A little frail?
    Potentially wrong?

    The Socceroos manager has persisted with his defensive system which we saw for the first time in
    the qualifiers prior to the Confederations Cup.

    It was a revolutionary decision and the results have been mixed. Despite having persisted with it through the year, its stunning ineffectiveness against Japan, combined with a constant feeling of angst that the paying public have towards the tactic, has many calling for a change.

    Last week’s two-nil loss to Japan was, no doubt, a poor result. What should always be remembered,
    however, is the fact that Japan are a quality team, played at home and tactically, the Socceroos were

    Now for the first time in the campaign, Australia’s fate lies beyond their own performance and Saudi Arabia have the chance to lock up an automatic qualifying place with a win against Japan.

    Hours earlier, the Socceroos will have grappled with the tricky Thais in a game many assume they will win comfortably. Nothing would please me more, yet casting my mind back to the previous clash with Thailand in November, I am not so sure.

    Sure it was a gluey deck, sure we were away from home and yes, Thailand are a more formidable challenge
    on their own soil, however, with the ball at their feet and if allowed to exploit Australia’s lack of speed and dexterity at the back, they could easily trouble the home team.

    While many fans of the green and gold are lamenting the two points lost on our visit to the Rajamangala
    Stadium, the fact is, the Socceroos were extremely lucky to get the one point they did manage to bring home.

    After conceding an early lead, it was only a late penalty from Mile Jedinak that claimed that point and despite the ladder which suggests the Thais have been a pushover throughout the qualifying campaign, they were impressive.

    So how does Postecoglou go about this clash, considering the pressure of the moment, the personnel at his disposal and the dented confidence in the squad after the horror of Saitama?

    Brad Smith has copped a battering in the media and will probably make way for Alex Gersbach. Matthew
    Ryan also came under criticism for what appeared some poor and choreographed decisions that showed little or no flexibility dependent on the situation.

    Brad Smith Australia Football Socceroos 2017

    (AAP Image/Matt Roberts)

    Whether Postecoglou sticks with his number one in an attempt to rebuild his confidence or makes a change won’t, however, be the determining factor in this game.

    What will be far more important, is the Socceroos’ ability to create some combinations through the midfield and danger on the ball, rather than replicating the impotent and clumsy team that wandered aimlessly into the front third in Japan.

    Robbie Kruse and James Troisi were the focus of much media attention and need to produce far more in
    attack, however their irrelevance wasn’t all of their own making with Tom Rogic and Jackson Irvine failing to provide anything of concrete value off which the men up front could feed.

    It would be easy, yet foolish, to think that the inclusion of Aaron Mooy will be some sort of magic elixir that reignites the Socceroos attack.

    There is no doubt he is a future star and potentially our most valuable asset yet there were more alarming signals during his absence than the mere fact that he wasn’t there.

    The ball needs to move more quickly, particularly through the centre of the park and the Socceroos need to complete passes with a slightly higher level of risk.

    When they look stodgy and ruffled, the passing becomes ultra-conservative and it is hard to see any potential avenues to goal.

    The use of more width will also add to the danger they present and this comes about with wing backs
    providing aggressive runs down the flanks and being able to link up with the front men more consistently.

    Aaron Mooy Football Australia Socceroos 2017

    (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

    Australia’s goal will be quite a simple one. Firstly win the game. Secondly, win it by as many as possible in an attempt to claw back any goal difference deficit that exists after the Samurai Blue have battled with the Saudis.

    Talk of putting four or five passed the Thais is premature and disrespectful to them. With new manager
    Milovan Rajevac rejuvenating their defense and some recent and impressive clean sheets, the visitors will not be as easy to break down as some commentators have suggested.

    Blessed with speed and creativity in attack, despite lacking true class and poise, Thailand will still provide something of a challenge for the much maligned back three of the Socceroos.

    Intense and frantic pressure always ruffles the feathers of the Aussies and the Thais will bring that in spades.

    It would be naïve to ignore the fact that they have the weapons to trouble and score against what looks a slightly fragile defense, both physically and emotionally.

    The Socceroos will either click back into gear and compile a performance that instills some faith back into the fans or produce something more lackluster that endorses some of the doubts held around the squad.

    Even a somewhat insipid performance might be good enough to get the Australians through, if our respected Japanese friends play true to form and roll the Saudis.

    Either way, it will be an anxious wait for the nation and a wait that we all know, didn’t need to occur. The chance was there to avoid this situation and the stress levels are self-induced to some extent.

    After three successful qualification campaigns in succession, it will feel strange if things all turn pear-shaped and the national team’s run in major competitions is stunted.

    Frankly, that can’t be allowed happen. The Socceroos are the jewel in the crown and Australian football cannot afford such a failure.

    Let’s hope Postecoglou sticks his head in the sand again, doesn’t read any press and refuses to budge one more time.


    If the players can execute the plan correctly, which seems a bit hit and miss at this stage, the Socceroos might just scrape through the mine field they have created for themselves.

    For what it is worth, the Socceroos at home is a tough proposition for the Thais. They will start well with high energy levels and match the Socceroos early.

    Realistically, the Australians should be able to find ways to break down the visitors and a two-nil victory seems a likely result.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (24)

    • September 5th 2017 @ 7:23am
      bobbym said | September 5th 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      The Roos have become predictable , teams just sit back waiting for us to make mistakes which we do in abunandace with the amount of turnovers in any one game. I agree there’s no speed of foot or thinking because players are confused with the new back 3 system. WE need to mix it up. Playing it out the back all the time is stupid. I think the Roos will be lucky to win by the amount needed tonight unless they score goals early. IT would be nice to see them play through the middle sometimes.

      • Roar Guru

        September 5th 2017 @ 11:00am
        Griffo said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Current form would suggest this isn’t going to be a boil-over we need.

        Given Leckie and whoever is on the other side providing fast running, I think this is how we have been setup, with Mooy and Rogic the main outlets via midfield. There are times we have done some verticle play and it looks good, but that can be dependent on the other team.

        I hope we score what we need and have Japan go on for the win, but this isn’t a position we should be in, but one we may need to be in to shake ourselves out of complacency we are falling into for ‘automatic’ World Cup qualification.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am
      Carltonian said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Look, whatever happens the Socceroos will be still alive come tomorrow morning. We just may need a few more nail biting matches to get there.

      Could be fun, you never know we might get the chance to play the USA.

      • Columnist

        September 5th 2017 @ 9:05am
        Stuart Thomas said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

        Would be a great match up, but let’s hope the boys get the job done tonight and the Japanese are switched on.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 9:43am
          John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:43am | ! Report

          Stu…a report is in that Japan has sent a very very watered down side to Saudi Arabia

          Expect a Saudi whitewash

          Thinking 3-0 or higher

          Australia wont win by 4 or more goals

          Dont have the attack up front and Cahil is well and truly best his use by date

          • September 5th 2017 @ 7:24pm
            Matsu said | September 5th 2017 @ 7:24pm | ! Report

            “Watered down” ???
            Where do you get this “information” from?

            The only players dropped were Kagawa (hasnt started the last 3 NT matches and is by no means a potential starter based on current form) and Hasebe, who only just returned from knee surgery, and is the oldest guy in the squad (ex-Kawashima). He may have more experience than his prospective replacements but is inferior to the likes of Shibasaki or Ideguchi in every other way (not to mention that he hasnt started the past 5 internationals)

            The chances of Saudi beating Japan by three goals are less than the chances of Smith being Man of the Match against Thailand.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:44am
      Torchbearer said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      Aust 2-0…..easy Saudi win 2-0 over a disinterested Japan. Hope I am wrong.

      • Columnist

        September 5th 2017 @ 9:06am
        Stuart Thomas said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:06am | ! Report

        Rumour and selections seem to suggest that the Japanese are easing of a little. Not good for the Socceroos.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 9:47am
          John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          You are correct Stu.

          Japan posting a c-grade side

          Disappointing from a once-proud nation

          Lets hope the Saudis play like they did against UAE

          • September 5th 2017 @ 11:22am
            Lionheart said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            So where are these reports? According to this article by Johnathon Duerden on FFA’s website, Japan has the same squad they used for the Australia match.
            of course, that could have changed but it would be unusual.

            • September 5th 2017 @ 7:08pm
              Matsu said | September 5th 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

              More BS from the Ozzie press is all it is. Japan dropped two players from the squad – Kagawa, who at this point is probably fourth in line for a spot at left MF (at best), will not be missed in the least. Hasebe, who just returned from knee surgery and was dropped to avoid the risk of re-injury, has immense experience, which will indeed be missed. However, in terms of sheer talent Shibasaki — who starts regularly in La Liga, for Getafe — is as good if not better. And I probably dont need to mention how good Ideguchi is.

              If anything, the squad for Saudi will be “stronger” from a media point of view because Honda and Okazaki will probably start. Both have been on the bench for Japan’s last THREE internationals (thats right, it wasnt just the Australia contest), so essentially they face a battle to prove themselves worthy of remaining in the squad. If they *DO* phone it in, that will probably mark their last opportunity to play for the Samurai Blue (in other words, expect a 100% effort from both).

              The simple truth is that there are no “B” players on the team at the moment. Everyone is good enough to start, with the difference only being between age & experience or youth & energy. So I dont buy any claims that Japan will be understrength, or will not make much of an effort. On the contrary, Ill be surprised if Saudi manage a draw.

        • September 5th 2017 @ 9:49am
          mattq said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

          maybe Stuart but looking at the starting lineup against our roos one could be forgiven for thinking they were easing off then too with many big names on the bench. We all know how that panned out.

          • Columnist

            September 5th 2017 @ 10:02am
            Stuart Thomas said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

            Good point mattq, they did start the game with a few up front who were, let’s say, unproven. I think they proved themselves though after such a solid performance. Certainly too good for us.

        • Roar Guru

          September 5th 2017 @ 10:55am
          Griffo said | September 5th 2017 @ 10:55am | ! Report

          If Australia were in a similar position going into the Thailand game, I’d expect Amini and co would be chosen ahead of regulars for game time and experience.

          Still, I wouldn’t discount those who are chosen to compete against the Saudi’s to put on a good display to be included in their World Cup squad.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 8:52am
      TK said | September 5th 2017 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      I think it will be a struggle for us. I think it is arrogant in the extreme to dismiss the Thais because they are bottom of the table. Its not like we have set the world on fire ourselves with confident consistent play throughout the last 12 months. In my opinion the team is not yet a team merely the latest 11 players picked by Ange to try and build on field partnerships and understanding during the 90 mins in which they are also expected to win. I hope for the best but that’s all it is. Hope instead of expectation.

    • September 5th 2017 @ 9:41am
      bobbym said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Aus 2 Thai 1

      • September 5th 2017 @ 9:42am
        John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Bobby Muir I think that will be the score too 🙂

        Maybe Aussie 3 Thai 2 actually

      • September 5th 2017 @ 11:20am
        John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:20am | ! Report

        Bobby Muir

        Kings School old boy

        scored a brace of goals vs Joeys

        Source: Chris Cooke aka DJ Blizzard

    • September 5th 2017 @ 11:21am
      Onside said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      Is it on FTA TV ?

      • September 5th 2017 @ 11:49am
        John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

        9Go Bro


        • September 5th 2017 @ 11:58am
          Onside said | September 5th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

          thank you

          • September 5th 2017 @ 12:06pm
            John George said | September 5th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            Predictions for the score tonight?

            AUS by 2 goals?

            5 goals?

            Thailand to suprise us and win?!

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