Wed, Sep 6, 3:00pm by Head Editor
The Socceroos road to next year’s World Cup in Russia just got a whole lot harder with the green and gold missing out on direct qualification for the first time since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.
Heading into Tuesday night’s home qualifier against Thailand, the aim was to score as many goals as possible, which would heap the pressure onto Saudi Arabia – who were level with the Aussies on points – before they hosted Japan five hours later.
The night didn’t go to script, in fact, it seemed that whatever the men in gold did, they just couldn’t score. Tomi Juric finally hit the back of the net when he wrapped his head around a brilliant Aaron Mooy cross in the 69th minute.
The contest pressure from the hosts did little to deter the Thais, who defended valiantly all night long. The full house at Melbourne’s AAMI Park were in stunned silence when the visitors scored just their ___ goal in their entire qualifying campaign.
Matthew Leckie restored Australia’s advantage four minutes from time, but by then it was clear that Australia hadn’t done enough to directly qualify for a fourth straight World Cup.
In fairness to the home side, they did dominate the entire 90 minutes, leaving the pitch having had 30 shots on goal and 70% possession, but after hitting the woodwork three times, it just wasn’t their night.
The squad must now regroup and go again for a home and away series against Syria, which begins on October 5 (away) and 10 (home) and unfortunately has landed either side of the opening weekend of the A-League season.
This will be the first play-off series that Australia has been involved in since the famous encounter against Uruguay in 2005.
They are a $1.18 chance with Sportsbet to get passed the Syrians, but that’s just the start of it, with the fourth-placed nation in CONCACAF waiting the winner of that series. At this point, it’s likely to be either the USA, Honduras, or Panama, all of whom will test the Aussies on last night’s form.
Despite this, the Aussies are still at $1.75 to secure their place in the biggest sporting event on the calendar, for a fourth straight time.
Will the Socceroos qualify for World Cup Finals?
Australia v Syria (winner over two legs)
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