Socceroos fans, the wait is nearly over!
It is just a matter of days until Australia finally return for their first FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers since November 2019, and here is everything you need to know about the matches ahead.
This week saw Graham Arnold name his 31-man squad that will head to Kuwait at the summit of Group B and attempt to maintain that position as they play out their final four fixtures in the space of 12 days.
Australia v Kuwait
Thursday, 3 June 2021 (4 June AEST)
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium
Kick-off: 10.00pm local, 5:00am AEST (Friday morning)
Watch on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, ABC TV, and My Football Live App.
Australia v Chinese Taipei
Monday, 7 June 2021 (8 June AEST)
Venue: Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium
Kick-off: 10.00pm local, 5.00am AEST (Tuesday morning)
Watch on Fox Sports, Kayo Sports, SBS Television, and My Football Live App.
Nepal v Australia
Australia v Jordan
Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold has selected 31 players to represent Australia in the Middle East.
The diverse squad – drawing upon players who ply their trade in 17 different leagues around the world – includes a host of familiar names who played their part in the Socceroos’ 2019 qualifiers, as well as a handful of exciting new additions.
Seven uncapped players in total take their place in the squad, including goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, defenders Fran Karicic and Ruon Tongyik as well as midfielders Kenny Dougall, Riley McGree, Connor Metcalfe and Denis Genreau.
While Metcalfe and Tongyik are set to enter senior national team camp for the first time, a few capped players will return to the frame after some time away.
These include Austria-based midfielder James Holland, who will be involved for the first time since the 2014 World Cup, Ryan McGowan – who was also involved in that tournament, alongside fellow A-League defender Curtis Good and Israel-based striker Nikita Rukavystya.
The extended squad will come together progressively as players are released from club commitments in the lead up to the fixtures.
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 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.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has confirmed that Kuwait will host Australia's remaining Group B FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifiers in a centralised hub format.
The Socceroos will play their first two fixtures at the Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium, before facing Nepal and Jordan at the Kuwait Sports Club Stadium. Each venue will host a Group B fixture on the 3rd, 7th, 11th and 15th June (local time).
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