The Socceroos face a must win match against Thailand on Tuesday night in Melbourne following the side’s 2-0 loss to Japan in Tokyo.
Once again, Australia has left its run late to qualify for the World Cup, as it did during the last qualification phase four years ago.
Japan’s 2-0 win sees the Blue Samurai seal qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while Australia sit third in Group B, equal on points with Saudi Arabia, however, behind on goal difference, with one game to go.
The top two nations from each group in Asia seal qualification to the World Cup, while third place must play against third place in Group A for the right to play-off against a Central American side, with the winner to advance to the World Cup.
For Australia to seal a top two birth and avoid the dreaded play-off, Ange’s men must beat Thailand on Tuesday and beat them convincingly.
Japan must also do Australia a favour and either beat Saudi Arabia on the road, or draw. With Australia and Saudi Arabia currently tied on points, this would ensure we finish above the Saudis on points, assuming we beat Thailand.
With Australia’s goal difference +4, compared to Saudi Arabia’s +6, the Socceroos must win by a big margin in order to guarantee they advance, to prepare for the possibility of Saudi Arabia defeating Japan.
Failure to do so could mean the two sides finish equal on points, but the Saudis advance due to superior goal difference.
The Socceroos host Thailand at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, but will not officially know their fate until the early hours of Wednesday morning AEST, when Saudi Arabia host Japan in Jeddah.