The countdown is on until the Socceroos finally return to international football with four vital FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in 12 days, kicking off at the start of June.
With just 50 days remaining, check out everything you need to know surrounding Australia’s return to the pitch for the first time since November 2019!
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The journey so far
Australia has made a strong start to their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, winning all four matches played in 2019, with three of those coming away from home.
Graham Arnold’s side have notched an impressive 16 goals at an average of four per game while conceding just the one.
A 3-0 win in Kuwait – the same location the Socceroos will be heading to in June – kicked off the campaign in September. On that day Mathew Leckie bagged a memorable brace and Aaron Mooy curled home a stunner to ensure the result.
A month later, the Socceroos returned home to Canberra where they played out a comfortable 5-0 victory over Nepal. Jamie Maclaren stole the show with his first international hat trick, while Harry Souttar instantly endeared himself to the Australian fans with a brace on debut.
Five days later, the squad travelled to Chinese Taipei where they secured their most emphatic result so far, overcoming the home nation 7-1 at Kaohsiung National Stadium. Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and Souttar all registered braces, as Ajdin Hrustic came off the bench to chip in with a trio of assists.
Exactly a month later, it was a whole lot closer when the Australia travelled to face Jordan in Amman. But Arnold’s side managed to get the job done in difficult conditions, with a solitary Adam Taggart goal ensuring the Socceroos would return home with a priceless three points.
So where exactly does that leave the Socceroos when it comes to advancing to the next stage on the journey to Qatar?
Australia will need to finish as group winners or one of the best four runners-up to advance to the third round of Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™️.
At that stage 12 countries will be split into two groups of six, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the FIFA World Cup and the two third-placed nations playing out an Asian and intercontinental play-off.
As things stand, the Socceroos are top of Group B on 12 points – two points ahead of Kuwait and Jordan who have both also played one extra game.
Australia are set to unite with the same four nations they faced in the second half of 2019, in Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal and Jordan.
Kuwait are the only one of those opponents to have previously qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals, when they appeared at Spain 1982.
Nepal, Jordan and Kuwait have played a handful of international friendlies over the past 18 months, while Chinese Taipei have also not featured since November 2019.
FIFA’s latest world rankings as of April 7, 2021 see Australia ranked the fourth-highest out of Asia at 41, with the next highest out of their Group B opponents being Jordan who are 95th.