Was the Socceroos midfielder hard done by?
Australia’s first batch of qualifying fixtures for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, due to start in September, have been confirmed on Wednesday evening.
The Socceroos have been drawn in Group B, with the four opposition teams also drawn in the group being Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal.
The Australian side most recently fell 1-0 to Jordan at the 2019 Asian Cup, and they stand as the most likely side to keep Australia from finishing top of the group.
Graham Arnold’s men will first play away to Kuwait, before they take on Nepal at home. They won’t play away to Jordan until November.
One of the Socceroos most recent matches was an away trip to Kuwait, where they won 4-0 in a pre-Asian Cup friendly.
While the first round of qualification has already been completed as a straight knockout between the lowest-ranked teams in the Asian Football Confederation, the second round will be the first group stage action, with all of the top teams now included in the competition.
In the second round of qualification, 40 teams are separated into eight groups of five, with home and away fixtures to be played from September 5 2019, through to the final matchday in June 2019.
Given the final matchday is June 9, and Australia’s participation at the 2020 Copa America starts on June 12, it’s likely the final fixture will have to be moved.
The top two sides from the group go straight into the third round of qualification for the World Cup, while only the first-placed team receives automatic qualification to the Asian Cup.
The Socceroos were in Pot 1 for the second round, meaning they avoided the other seven top-seeded teams in Asia, who are Iran, Japan, South Korea, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and China PR.
These matches will be played in official FIFA international match windows, with a total of eight games per nation to be played.
Venues and start times for all matches will be confirmed at a later date.
|Tue Sep 10||Kuwait||Australia|
|Thu Oct 10||Australia||Nepal|
|Tue Oct 15||Chinese Taipei||Australia|
|Thu Nov 14||Jordan||Australia|
|Thu Mar 26||Australia||Kuwait|
|Tue Mar 31||Nepal||Australia|
|Thu Jun 4||Australia||Chinese Taipei|
|Tue Jun 9||Australia||Jordan|