Our road to Russia is no more difficult than any other nation’s

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

By Mike Tuckerman, Mike Tuckerman is a Roar Expert

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    The Socceroos have had a tough run but so has everyone else. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

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    Ask American fans how they feel about qualification for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and they won’t know whether to laugh or cry.

    Despite enjoying one of the easiest routes to Russia, Americans will be watching a World Cup without the USA for the first time since 1986.

    Similarly, the Italians missed out for the first time since 1958 after losing in a two-leg playoff to Sweden yesterday.

    Meanwhile, the Dutch had a disastrous campaign and won’t be going to Russia either.

    It marks a new nadir for a team that finished third at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – and promptly missed out on qualifying for the subsequent 2016 UEFA European Championship in France.

    And what about Chile?

    Fresh from ending a 99-year wait for the Copa America by claiming back-to-back continental tiles, La Roja promptly missed out on qualifying for Russia by finishing sixth in arguably the toughest qualifying group of all – the notoriously difficult ten-team South American slugfest.

    The Socceroos, meanwhile?

    Sure, we were unlucky to draw the might of Japan in qualifying yet again. And some neutral fans may suggest it was high time Saudi Arabia reached the World Cup finals for the first time since 2006.

    But the reality is that Ange Postecoglou’s team had plenty of chances to seal progression, even if it hardly seems fair to miss out after losing just once in the final round of qualifying.

    Asia is tough
    Having lost fewer games than Saudi Arabia and boasting a superior record to Group A qualifiers South Korea, it would be easy to suggest the Socceroos have been hard done by.

    But the move into Asia was designed to expose Australia to a tougher qualifying route, and it’s done exactly that.

    Had the Socceroos taken maximum points against Iraq in neutral Tehran, or scored more goals against Thailand in Melbourne, it might be a moot point anyway.

    And while Football Federation Australia must be sick of the sight of Japan – wouldn’t it be nice to play South Korea in World Cup qualifying for once? – the simple fact is that the Socceroos failed to get the job done when they had the chance.

    There are no guarantees on a continent which boasts vast geographical and cultural differences.

    Not only do its World Cup participants criss-cross oceans and time zones, but the standard of Asian football is improving at a rapid pace.

    With war-torn states like Syria and Iraq playing for national pride, and upwardly mobile nations such as China and Qatar pouring money into football as a means of wielding soft power across the globe, the route through Asia is only going to get more difficult.

    It all adds up to a simple axiom: Asia is tough.

    And the Socceroos should underestimate the continent at their peril – something that is only now just dawning on some Australian fans.

    An Iraqui fan peers through flags before the start of the match at Stadium Australia. (Photo: Paul Barkley/LookPro)

    A new frontier
    The trip to the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula to face Honduras was a throwback to the days of yesteryear, when visits to far-flung places like North Korea, Israel and Argentina all ended in heartbreak.

    No doubt the most traumatic exit was the away-goals defeat to Iran in 1997, when Australia blew a two-goal lead at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to draw 3-3 on aggregate and go out on the away goals rule.

    But that two-legged tie proved the Socceroos can go to places like Tehran – where they were stared down by a hostile crowd of more than 120,000 – to get a result.

    They’ve already gained more battle-hardened experience when they secured a 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula, where a less-than-inviting home crowd gave the Socceroos a ‘warm’ welcome.

    The Honduran press made much of Australia’s supposed ignorance of the Central American state, although it’s worth pointing out that the stereotypes tend to fly both ways, and there’ll probably be a few references to kangaroos and barbecues dotted throughout the Spanish-language coverage for the second leg.

    Now that the Aussies have avoided a heavy defeat in Honduras, they can qualify for Russia tonight on their own terms.

    It’s a tactic that worked against Uruguay in 2005, although fans could be forgiven for hoping the tie doesn’t finish up in a tension-filled penalty shootout like it did 12 years ago.

    Aaron Mooy Socceroos Australia Football 2017

    Reasons to dream
    Of the 210 countries that started out in World Cup qualifying – excluding the host nation – 177 have already been knocked out of contention.

    Some, like those who ended up in Europe’s star-studded playoff round, will feel reasonably confident of progressing.

    Others, like the New Zealand side set to take on Peru over two legs in their inter-confederation playoff, have plenty of reasons to dream.

    That’s the scenario the Socceroos find themselves in, even if some are incredulous to see them in this position.

    At the end of the day, reaching the World Cup finals is difficult and if we’ve learned any lessons from a fractious qualifying campaign, it’s that we can’t take anything for granted.

    We can console ourselves with the knowledge that from 2026 onwards the qualification route is likely to get easier, thanks to FIFA’s plan to expand the finals to 48 teams.

    But for now, it’s worth remembering that our route may involve more air travel and plenty of logistical planning, but it’s also devoid of some of the big guns of world football.

    And if we think finishing third in a group behind Japan and Saudi Arabia is unbecoming of Australia’s position in world football, it could always be worse.

    We could be Chile. Or the Netherlands. Or the USA. Or Italy.

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    The Crowd Says (119)

    • November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am
      Buddy said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      Can’t say I am a fan of seeing 48 teams reaching a finals situation. That is almost 25% of participating nations and the whole qualification path will change dramatically. As for the Australian road to qualification; well I got the distinct impression when the application was made to enter the asian qualifiers that the path was thought to be much easier than winning Ocenia only to be pitted against a tough South American country that was battle hardened through their arduous road to qualification. The asian route would provide more games, a better test but nothing too hard! What was missed is the general improvement we have see in the last decade. Whilst Japan has always been strong, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the whole standard in asia has greatly improved and that was all on show in the Asian cup here a few years ago. Whilst Australia may have ultimately succeeded in that competition, they only just defeated South Korea in the final and couldn’t be described as either having won comfortably or were particularly dominant.
      I prefer this route to finals whatever it throws up. No more silly games against Pacific Island nations that provide no measure at all. Whatever the outcome tonight, we will either get to enjoy watching another world cup that includes the green and gold or we will reflect upon a failed campaign that also includes the likes of Italy, Netherlands, USA and a few more countries that will be soul searching and rebuilding in the next few years.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:07am
        Waz said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        The Ocean route was very one sided games, followed by very easy games and then New Zealand. Win through that and we were ill prepared for even a relative easy inter-continental opponent.

        Asia is easy on qualification by virtue of having access to 4.5 qualification slots but the games are much harder, certainly in the second phase of qualifying which prepares us better for what follows.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:51am
          Shaun said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          agreed. NZ (placed 100 and something) versus Peru (placed 10th) gives them almost no chance. Especially having a week turn around to travel to Peru.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 15th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      Having just seen Sweden get past the likes of Italy, France and Holland to make the WC, I doubt any knowledgeable football fan would look upon Australia’s qualification route as being “tough”.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:11am
        I ate pies said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

        The simple fact is that there is only one Asian country ranked in the top 50 – Japan, at 44. Australia is ranked 43. The top 50 is dominated by European and South American countries, the strongholds of soccer. The qualifying path in these continents is considerably more difficult than Australia’s.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:41am
          Waz said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:41am | ! Report

          The FIFA rankings do not reflect relative strengths of nations. It favours certain confederations (Europe for sure) and is open to manipulation (see what Wales did).

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:51am
          KJ said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:51am | ! Report

          We’ll 2, Iran. But I get your point.

          I also feel though, there needs to be some levelling, otherwise you should just say the highest 31 ranked teams and the hosts should complete and that’s the end of it.

          Of course that’s absurd. The current balance is right IMO, except maybe South America is undercut a little.

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:16am
            spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

            Well, 3. Australia is an Asian nation for the purposes of FIFA rankings.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 12:16pm
          Melange said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          I ate pies,

          Sweden got past Netherlands, Bulgaria, Luxemburg and Belarus to come second in their group – then beat Italy in a 2-legged play off. Do you think Japan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Australia would be a reasonable chance to 2nd? I do.

          There’s no doubting Europe has a larger group of stronger teams than Asia and most other confederations, however with their groupings the strongest teams in Europe generally have easy groups, with the exception of a few groups of death.

          Do you think that in the final standings of the following groups Australia would be a chance to replace any of the top 2 teams? In my opinion, definitely!

          Bosnia and Herzegovina


          FYR Macedonia

          • November 15th 2017 @ 12:34pm
            Kangajets said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:34pm | ! Report


            Agreed. There are some extremely weak groups in Europe.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:12am
        Waz said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        It’s all relative. 20 years ago Asian sides were a novelty, today they are respected but not feared, in 20 years time we’re likely to see Korea and Japan kick in even further as their domestic game continues to grow plus the emergence of China and India as genuine football nations.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:53am
          Shaun said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:53am | ! Report

          Watch out for China!!! Theyre on a path that puts them at the top in pretty short time…

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:17am
            spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

            No they aren’t.

            A bucketload of money will only go so far. They have deeply embedded structural flaws on how to play the game that will take at least a generation to break.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 9:38am
              Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

              China’s football revolution is being driven from the bottom up. The development of kids & juniors.

              Agree it will take a generation, but when it improves it’ll create wave after wave of top quality players.

              Iceland has traditionally been a middle-low ranked Euro nation. Sometimes producing good individuals. Played agricultural football. Between 2007-2012 their FIFA ranking gyrated between 80-110. They invested heavily in coaching & development, now we see results.

              Belgium have always been a strong football nation, then they fell away at the start of this century. 7 years ago Belgium were ranked about where China is now ranked. Now they’re amongst the elite of Europe. How did they transform? Better coaching. A National Curriculum. Better development.

              China is on the right path. It’s going to happen. Expect results in 2022-2026. Then watch out when – not if, when – they host a World Cup.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 15th 2017 @ 10:52am
                Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                IN other words, SM was right when he said it will take a generation.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 10:53am
                Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

                Which part of “Agree it will take a generation” did you find confusing in my post Mr AFL?

              • Roar Rookie

                November 15th 2017 @ 11:00am
                Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                are you chasing some reflected glory?

              • Roar Guru

                November 15th 2017 @ 11:05am
                spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:05am | ! Report


                Yep, agree with all except the timing…and we can only agree to disagree with that.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 12:40pm
              Waz said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

              I saw the Chinese U23 team play on the Gold Coast this winter, they were good. The change is already taking place

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:37am
        punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

        I don’t think anyone doubts there are better teams in qualification, especially in Sth America & lesser extent the odd European group. However, the long travels, the cultures, the intimidating countries we meet, makes the Socceroos campaign difficult.
        Look at Sweden’s campaign, looks tough on paper, but both Holland & Italy on steep declines.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 9:18am
          spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          What intimidating countries do Australia play?

          It’s a bit of a furphy this ‘intimidating country” quip.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 9:27am
            Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:27am | ! Report

            I’d rather work in Ireland, Denmark, Sweden than Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Iraq.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am
              punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

              Boom boom Nem!!! Back of the net.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 10:52am
                I ate pies said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:52am | ! Report

                They have to travel here too though.

              • Roar Guru

                November 15th 2017 @ 11:11am
                spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

            • Roar Guru

              November 15th 2017 @ 11:09am
              spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

              As would I…7 days a week.

              But i can hardly see how those countries are intimidating to the football team flying in to play a match and fly out?

              I think Australia would be more ‘intimidated’ playing against Denmark or ‘Sweden than they would the UAE.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 11:25am
                punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

                Ask the season professionals (socceroos) who had to travel to Iran in 1997 & how intimidating that was.

              • Roar Guru

                November 15th 2017 @ 11:46am
                spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report



                Read it. From the mouths of the professionals themselves. NONE of them were ‘intimidated’ by it – on the contrary they were relishing it.

                Playing a world cup qualification game in Iran, Honduras, Uruguay, Italy, France, wherever…it’s the same. The home team will have a disproportionate level of support and will of course look to create an atmosphere that will favour the home team and give them an extra edge.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 11:56am
                Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:56am | ! Report

                The intimidation is not just people in the stands jeering.

                The intimidation could be the way the Border Control treat you at the Airport; the conditions in the hotel; the trip to the stadium for training & match day.

                Even as a tourist, if you are trying to suggest travelling to the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Spain is as daunting for English-speaking Aussies as going to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan … you’re living in a different Australia to myself.

                I take it you’re a Travel Agent given your knowledge of flights, etc. You tell me. Is it as easy for me to fly from Melbourne to Bishkek tomorrow as it is to fly to London?

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:05pm
                Mushi said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

                Are they tourists though?

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:06pm
                punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

                Read again Spruce, he mentions it many times, the crowd.

                You follow cricket too Spruce, why does the Aussies even during our peak of dominance struggle in countries that is culturally so different to ours as comparison to a country like England.

                Not even sure why we arguing about this. I understand why Grob is, but you?

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:15pm
                punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                Remember Spruce I said intimidating, not intimidated by it.

              • Roar Guru

                November 15th 2017 @ 1:16pm
                spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

                @ Nemesis

                No, I’m not a travel agent. I do a significant amount of travel for work, so you get to know a few things about it. To answer your question – yes. You can get from Melbourne to Bishkek in one stop via Dubai. Emirates and fly dubai. If you leave tomorrow afternoon on the scheduled Qantas flight (or the Emirates option) you’ll be in Dubai with a short lay over for your flight to Bishkek.

                Border control in the UK and the US are – by far – the most intimidating for anyone these days.

                I actually agreed with you that I would prefer living in the European countries you suggested over the Middle East one’s, so I’m not sure why you are banging on about that again.

                Intimidation could also be booing a national team’s anthem when it’s played. I’ll be at the game tonight and will be fascinated to see if we repeat those antics.

                @ Punter

                I’m not sure why I’m arguing with you over this either. But “intimidation” is more frequently used as a cover word for racial beliefs. You rarely hear people talk about ‘intimidating’ European crowds – rather they are branded ‘passionate’. Not suggesting you resorted to that, but a trip to Iran for a play off is no different to Sweden going to Italy for their play off.

                On the cricket comment – that’s way off the mark, and is racist. You may not have intended that, but it is and I’d advise to be more cautious next time. It has nothing to do with culture, and everything to do with conditions. Australia haven’t won in England since 2001. In fact, they’ve won more series in Sri Lanka and West Indies in that time. It’s also widely accepted as fact that the crowd that is able to shake the Australians more than any other is the English crowd – our supposed cultural cousins.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 3:34pm
                punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

                WOW Spruce you have just blown me with that comment.

                You are arguing for the sake of it. See ya later.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 3:38pm
                Torchbearer said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

                It is funny to comment on ‘border procedures’- I have been to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan….and almost without exception their customs and border staff and processes are much friendlier and inviting than we get from Border Force here. Iran is an exceptionally cultured and friendly country, and all round a much more welcoming country than Australia.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 3:56pm
                potatojuice said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

                Time and time again you prove yourself a loose moose/goose.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 9:09am
        jamesb said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        Each confederation is tough to qualify. Whilst Asia doesn’t have the quality like Europe, it does have other challenges that Europe doesn’t need to worry about like 20 hour long distance flights, playing in 40 odd desert heat, or playing in monsoonal type conditions.

        The arduous travels and extreme conditions are always often overlooked when it comes to Asia

        • Roar Rookie

          November 15th 2017 @ 10:53am
          Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Those aspects are tough, but you are still coming up against 2nd rate opposition time after time.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 11:03am
            jamesb said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            There’s also second rate opposition in Europe as well. When they did the table for best runners up, they only counted results from teams 1-5 and disregarded the results from team 6. And even team 5, there were some pretty ordinary teams.

            • Roar Rookie

              November 15th 2017 @ 11:10am
              Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:10am | ! Report

              I mean seriously, Asia gets reduced to two groups of pretty ordinary teams, and two from each group go through! and a fifth gets a second chance against a weak central american team

              are you watching the current knock out games amongst these “second string” European teams?

              quality European teams miss out while rubbish Asian teams go through

              • November 15th 2017 @ 11:22am
                punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

                Ireland, Northern Ireland, Greece & a very poorly coached Italy.

                Ummmmm, doesn’t actually sents shivers down the spine, outside of Italy.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:40pm
                Kangajets said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                Socceroos would be favoured to beat Northern Ireland, Ireland and Greece in my opinion .

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:10pm
                jamesb said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report


                I am not sure if you are serious, sarcastic or finding ways to put down Australia’s efforts in Asia. Anyway, here are some “quality” teams from Europe. FIFA rankings in brackets:

                Luxembourg (93)
                Belarus (91)
                Faroe Islands (95)
                Latvia (129)
                Andorra (144)
                Azerbaijan (115)
                San Marino (204)
                Georgia (107)
                Moldova (167)
                Armenia (90)
                Lithuania (145)
                Malta (182)
                Macedonia (85)
                Liechtenstein (187)
                Gibraltar (206)
                Finland (87)
                Kosovo (183)

                There are 17 world class teams there. And I was kind to a few other teams as well.

                Anyway, with 13 spots available for the world cup, and with Europe having 54 teams taking part in qualifiers, there will always be some good and rubbish teams miss out.

            • November 15th 2017 @ 11:18am
              punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

              Exactly James, let not forget that Grob, did pick up the hardest 2 groups Italy with Spain & Sweden with Holland & France.

              Let’s not forget Spain went thru with 9 wins & only 1 draw & no losses.
              France only had 1 loss too.

              Like I said both Holland & Italy, tough on paper, but maybe not so strong on the field.

              • Roar Rookie

                November 15th 2017 @ 11:29am
                Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                It’s still worth pondering: Sweden had to get past Italy, France and Holland to qualify.

                It makes the Asian group look like a walk in the park.

                If an Asian team was in a group featuring Italy, France and Holland (for argument’s sake), I would have trouble seeing it end up on top

              • November 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm
                Kangajets said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                Ok mr grobelaar

                U made your point . We disagree and think the top 5 in Asia could finish second in the ueafa groups

                The real question is , are you supporting Honduras tonight ?

              • November 15th 2017 @ 11:45am
                Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                “If an Asian team was in a group featuring Italy, France and Holland (for argument’s sake), I would have trouble seeing it end up on top”

                There was no Group in UEFA Qualification that included featuring Italy, France & Holland … so your argument is ridiculous. You’re revealing your old Mr AFL personality in the past few days. You’re itching to pour scorn on the National Team.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:18am
      chris said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      The world game is getting tougher and tougher. As more countries invest heavily in its development, it will only get tougher. Asia is a growing economic powerhouse and with that comes better facilities and better resourced teams etc.
      Australia’s path will only get tougher in years to come but that is a good thing as it “forces” us to keep abreast of these emerging countries.
      The Asian path is tough now and will only get tougher. Bring it on : )

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:18am
        spruce moose said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:18am | ! Report


      • Roar Rookie

        November 15th 2017 @ 10:54am
        Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        with the WC expanding to 48 spots, and Asia getting goodness knows how many – it’s pretty hard to argue it’s getting tougher

        • November 15th 2017 @ 3:12pm
          chris said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

          How would you know?

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:27am
      Pedro said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      The current Australian side is not in the top 32 sides in the world and the only reason we are likely to qualify for the 2018 World Cup is that the current qualifying system ensures over representation for the weaker north/Central America, Asian and arguably African conferences. All of the commentary about how tough we have done it is nonsense.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:28am
        punter said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        You know nothing Pedro!!!!

        • November 15th 2017 @ 8:43am
          Waz said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

          In his defence he does know how to access the internet and how to type words … unfortunately

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:29am
        chris said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        The World Cup is not about the top 32 nations competing. You do get that dont you?

      • November 15th 2017 @ 10:08am
        ExpertInHisOwnLunchBox said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Respectively I would argue that with the type of football Australia plays it would have a better chance of qualifying in the South American Conference than the European Conference. And in spite of the FIFA ratings I would also argue that Australia would have a reasonable chance of qualifying in either Conference, maybe not quite a 50% chance but it wouldn’t be too far off this.

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 8:28am
      Chris Kettlewell said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      World Cup Qualification is supposed to be tough. It’s the one real world game where everyone is trying to qualify. Out of all the major sports played in Australia, it’s the only one where we aren’t basically guaranteed entry into any World Cup that gets played. After not being in for ages, we finally got in and made it three in a row, now it’s easy to feel like we should just always be there, but as shown this qualifying campaign where the Netherlands, Italy, USA, Chile and others have failed to get through, nothing can be taken for granted. All countries are working to get better. The Socceroos need to keep improving just to stay competitive. We are never going to “dominate” Asia. We need to work hard to remain continually in the upper echelon of Asian nations.

      Hopefully we will win tonight and get through. But we need to realise that qualifying for the World Cup isn’t now just some intrinsic right we should have. We need to work hard for it, and we won’t always make it.

      We do need to work out how to be more clinical in finishing though! Probably doesn’t help that pretty much all the top strikers in the A-League are foreigners. Somehow we need to work out how to develop real goal scoreres!

      • November 15th 2017 @ 10:24am
        ExpertInHisOwnLunchBox said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:24am | ! Report

        Five teams from the final sixteen of 2014 will not be at the world cup finals in 2018.

        It is also interesting to note that all four teams from the Asian Conference finished bottom of their respective groups at the 2014 world cup. Unfortunately the Asian Conference is far too inward looking (its all about beating the other teams by any method rather than just focusing on playing good football to raise the standard of the game in Asia) and should have the number of teams qualifying for the final reduced.

    • Roar Rookie

      November 15th 2017 @ 8:46am
      The Phantom Commissioner said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      We don’t have the hardest path to the big dance and we don’t have the easiest. I think whats more important is how we perform when we get there and apart from one disastrous performance against Germany in Sth Africa we’ve never looked like we didn’t deserve to be there…… we’ve had absolute nightmares of groups every time as well.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 8:50am
        chris said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        Yes good points. And most teams (even Brazil!) have nightmare games.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 11:18am
        Redsback said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        I don’t agree that our 2006 group was a nightmare group. Brazil, Croatia and Japan is as good as wrcould hope for. I would happily take that draw again should we make it. 2010 wasn’t especially difficult either. The only truly shocking draw we got was in 2014.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 15th 2017 @ 11:26am
          Grobbelaar said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

          I agree Redsback.
          It’s unlikely we’ll ever have as easy a group as what we got in 2006. Now I know we qualified as an Oceania team back then, but still, you’ll never get two Asian countries in the one group again (as effectively happened that time).

          • November 15th 2017 @ 12:54pm
            Kangajets said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report


            I see what your doing there , sprouting your opinions as fact .
            What gem have you got for us next?

            And are you really supporting Honduras tonight or just unhappy that afl doesn’t have a World Cup ?

            • November 15th 2017 @ 1:02pm
              Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

              Grobbelaar is the AFL fan who used to post constant negative comments about Football under the usernames: My Left Foot, The Cattery, Mr Football .. always using the photo image of the AFL guy with the tight shorts & singlet giving a high kick.

              Under the username, Grobbelaar he’s been much more conciliatory in his posts on this forum, but in recent days the old anti-soccer vibe has returned.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 3:16pm
                chris said | November 15th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

                Its good that he’s been outed though. So people will no longer take his comments seriously and take him for the bitter twisted individual that he is.
                I wonder how long it will be until he changes to someone else and then revert back to some positive posts and then back to his real self. And the cycle continues for this poor bloke.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 4:16pm
                Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:16pm | ! Report

                I’m pretty sure he’s already using several nom de plumes on this forum right now.

                “Mushi” is another of his aliases from the past, and I notice Mushi reappeared today.

              • November 15th 2017 @ 5:17pm
                Hubris said | November 15th 2017 @ 5:17pm | ! Report

                Are we truly so desperate for rich, steaming bowls of irony that we actually have “Nemesis” leading a campaign to out posters who have previously used other names or back stories? Is this really happening?

          • November 15th 2017 @ 1:04pm
            Nemesis said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            But we could get the Oceania nation in our Group &, given your Italian background, you’d be well aware that the Oceania nation has finished above the European Nation at the past tournaments (2006 & 2010) when Oceania had its representative qualify for the Finals.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm
          The Phantom Commissioner said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:32pm | ! Report

          You dont think 2010 was a difficult group?. The best African team at the tournament, one of the strongest Serbian sides in recent memory and Germany. If you look at the groups of that world cup there’s at least 3 or 4 i’d rather we were in.

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