Australia’s World Cup hopes hang by a thread after Saudi Arabia win

Josh Elliott Editor

By Josh Elliott, Josh Elliott is a Roar Editor

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    A 1-0 victory to Saudi Arabia in their World Cup qualifier has sent them to the World Cup and means Australia will have to battle it out with Syria just to stay in with a chance.

    The Socceroos recorded a shaky, nervous and altogether frustrating 2-1 win over Thailand on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to guarantee qualification.

    They also needed Japan to either win or draw with Saudi Arabia – but with nothing to gain from the match themselves, the Japanese ultimately copped a one-goal loss.

    Australia will now go into the fourth round of qualification, which means they must play Syria in a two-match series in October.

    If they win this they will put themselves in the inter-confederation playoffs, where they will play an as-yet-unknown team from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in another two-match series for a spot in the World Cup.

    Honduras currently occupy the spot on the CONCACAF table that will be sent to the inter-confederation playoffs, but each team in the mix must still play three more matches.

    Panama and the United States are also possible opponents, or less likely, Costa Rica or Trinidad and Tobago could be in the mix.

    Only by winning both of these two-match series can they Australians still qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia – if they fall short in either one then it’ll be game over, and they’re staying home next year.

    The most frustrating aspect of the result is that if Australia had simply scored two more goals in their match against Thailand, they would have beaten Saudi Arabia on total goals scored and qualified.

    That may seem like a big ask, but given Australia’s general dominance during the game – recording 45 shots to eight, and 12 on goal to just one – it could easily have been achieved.

    “If there was a more one-sided contest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it,” said Australian coach Ange Postecoglou.

    “45 shots; 20 odd inside the box, three posts; one cleared off the line. The goalkeeper’s pulled off some great saves.

    “Usually when the evidence is so overwhelming, you get the rewards. Tonight we didn’t.”

    Postecoglou spoke out in defense of his players despite the disappointing results of their ten-match World Cup qualification campaign.

    “I’ve been sitting here frustrated for the last two years, listening to some of the garbage being thrown around at these players.

    “It’s tough qualifying for a World Cup. It’s even tougher when it’s your first one.

    “We’ve played 10 games and lost one. They’ve done everything I’ve asked of them.

    “You know what? Yeah that’s all I’ve got to say.”

    Josh Elliott
    Josh Elliott

    Josh Elliott may be The Roar's Weekend Editor, but at heart he's just a rusted-on North Melbourne tragic with a penchant for pun headlines - and also abnormal alliteration, assuredly; assuming achievability. He once finished third in a hot chilli pie eating contest. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshElliott_29 and listen to him on The Roar's AFL Podcast.

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    The Crowd Says (119)

    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:38am
      Ad-0 said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      What we deserve. We’re not good enough to play Barca-lite at this level, let alone the Finals. We should pack defense and hit teams on the break like all smart teams of our level.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 6:11am
        Kurt said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:11am | ! Report

        Saudi are going to get pumped at the world cup.

        • September 6th 2017 @ 6:55am
          Sports Prophet said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:55am | ! Report

          As will Australia if we make it

          • September 6th 2017 @ 7:40am
            Vic Ram said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:40am | ! Report

            Socceroos will never make it to world cup 2018 as long as Ange stays coach, good for A league but lack knowledge at International level, the team he picks unbelievable Miligan his favourite son should be in best 11 team……………what a joke.

        • September 6th 2017 @ 7:52am
          Al said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:52am | ! Report

          At least they made it.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 8:03am
        Rolly said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        What nonsense ,so your saying Saudi deserve to go thru then .oh please Socceroos are a far better proposition than the Saudis .saudis don’t stand a chance in Russia

        • September 6th 2017 @ 1:49pm
          matth said | September 6th 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report


    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:39am
      Stephen Chen said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:39am | ! Report

      Meh. I might have cared ten years ago. But since the rise of the A-League I feel that the WC just pales in comparison to the excitement of our great intercity derbies.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Rolly said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Same here the A league has alienated the game in this country with only ten teams and mostly capital city teams we don’t have a team to support too many cities and regions without a team to support forces kids to lose interest most of our greatest players came from regional cities .

        • September 6th 2017 @ 8:57am
          Waz said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          and yet 1.8 million people turn up and watch the A league every season. Time to drop the victim/blame mentality

          • September 6th 2017 @ 2:35pm
            steve said | September 6th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

            TBF, 1.8 million roll through the gates. Not 1.8 million different people. Big difference mate.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 3:08pm
              chris said | September 6th 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

              Yeah steve we get that

          • September 6th 2017 @ 7:51pm
            Rolly said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

            We are a country with a population of 26 million .you brag about the same 1,8 million what about the other 24 million who don’t follow a team or have no team in their city to follow. Why don’t we have any Aussies playing in the biggest leagues in Europe today you can count them on one hand .the NSL era was far superior more Aussies playing in Europe during the NSL era wonder why.A league can’t even get a FTA channel to pay to show the league .a national competition encompassing more cities will result in a stronger code and a stronger national team more talent will be unearthed with more teams and more cities included .in a national comp.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 8:19pm
              pacman said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

              Most of our 26 million live in the major cities, and therefore have one or more teams to support. By major cities, I am excluding Canberra and Darwin, which aren’t major anyway.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 11:58am
        13th Man said | September 6th 2017 @ 11:58am | ! Report

        Lol, I’m assuming this is a sarcastic comment. The A-League is the biggest joke it’s a second rate competition which no one cares about.

        • September 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm
          chris said | September 6th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Hi 13th man. Such an original comment!
          So given you dont care for the A-League can you tell us which club competition in Australia is world class?
          I’m assuming you only care about world class competitions

          • September 6th 2017 @ 3:56pm
            13th Man said | September 6th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

            There is no world class Soccer competition in Australia. I watch the Premier League because it’s of a good standard with good players in it.
            If I want to watch a good standard of club competition in Australia I watch the AFL as they are the best in the World at that particular sport.
            Watching the A-LEAGUE would be like watching the NEAFL.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 4:06pm
              Nemesis said | September 6th 2017 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

              “In Australia I watch the AFL as they are the best in the World at that particular sport.”

              I laughed & I laughed.

              AFL is a sport where
              a) the players don’t catch an oval ball as well as the NFL.
              b) can’t pass an oval ball with the accuracy as the NFL &
              c) can’t kick an oval ball through 2 poles of unlimited height as accurately as Rugby…

              but they think they’re “best in the world”.

              My kids invented their own backyard sport. I must tell them they’re the best in the world. Only in Australia do people make such asinine comments.

            • September 6th 2017 @ 4:11pm
              chris said | September 6th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report


            • September 6th 2017 @ 4:18pm
              chris said | September 6th 2017 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

              13th man I think Malcolm Knox was talking about you in this article he wrote the other day:

            • September 6th 2017 @ 5:53pm
              Basil said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

              Knox has zero credibility since that appalling piece he wrote on Gale. As far as the argument that if a sport is not worldwide then you are insular to follow it, well that just brings up the cultural cringe. The idea that you need world affirmation for your sport to be worthwhile is just plain silly. What about the love of sport for sports sake, and who cares about the rest of the world think?

    • September 6th 2017 @ 5:59am
      Johnno said | September 6th 2017 @ 5:59am | ! Report

      Break the bank frank lowy. Sack Ange and get a Hiddink standard coach now. It’s been done before you sacked frank Farina for Hiddink $$. These crazy play offs to all parts of the world are gonna be like 2005…

      • September 6th 2017 @ 6:14am
        Kurt said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:14am | ! Report

        Its not completely ange (i mean , yes, his got his issues) but you cant conduct an orchestra, with only musicians that can play percussion

        • September 6th 2017 @ 6:32am
          Waz said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:32am | ! Report

          Ange has players who are good enough – Ange has basically rearranged the orchestra and picked musicians that aren’t playing regularly. He had his reasons and now he stands judged on his achievement so far.

          But it’s not over yet.

    • September 6th 2017 @ 6:03am
      hogdriller said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:03am | ! Report

      “We’ve played 10 games and lost one, they’ve done everything I’ve asked of them”?

      What about the 4 draws Ange?

      If everything you asked for was a 50% success rate, then you need to call it quits old mate.

    • September 6th 2017 @ 6:16am
      Waz said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      We’re good enough to get through this we’re just not playing well enough. Ange just has to realise he’s now in a two-legged knock out tournament and pick and motivate his team accordingly

      • September 6th 2017 @ 2:37pm
        steve said | September 6th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        I think Bozza was right, the players have stopped listening to him or are simply confused by what he wants to achieve with his formation.

      • Roar Guru

        September 6th 2017 @ 10:47pm
        Cousin Claudio said | September 6th 2017 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

        They certainlly looked lost, disinterested and unmotivated to me.
        Somethings wrong there and not playing as a team.

        When Leckie scored the second, and winning goal no one embraced him or showed much emotion. Its a very strange vibe.

        Not qualifying might be the best thing to happen to this team.
        Hopefully some drastic changes will be made and there will be some improvements.

    • September 6th 2017 @ 6:36am
      Onside said | September 6th 2017 @ 6:36am | ! Report

      We play Syria in Malaysia in October. Syria ,a team with no money because
      of sanctions due to a six year old civil war, play all home games in Malaysia.

      • September 6th 2017 @ 7:54am
        Waz said | September 6th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

        Apparently the Syrian FA plan to host their home game in Queensland …. they’ve heard the FFA don’t consider it part of Australia ?

        • September 6th 2017 @ 8:41am
          Onside said | September 6th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          Love it Waz

        • September 6th 2017 @ 9:19am
          Lionheart said | September 6th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          but the QLD gov pulled out of negotiations because it was not good value
          so it’ll be at AAMI instead, or Allianz

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