Everything you need to know about Socceroos' play-off rivals UAE

Two games stand between the Socceroos and FIFA World Cup qualification, with their first challenge coming in the form of a revitalised UAE side determined to book their ticket to Qatar.

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For the second straight qualification campaign, Australia must take the long route to the World Cup and despite their recent struggles, Graham Arnold’s side are confident they can get the job done.

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The first hurdle the Socceroos will need to clear is the AFC's third-placed play-off against the UAE in Doha on June 7.



The winner of this match will then represent the Asian confederation in the intercontinental play-off against Peru a week later.

There are many similarities between the UAE and Australia's journey to this point, with both nations suffering through an at times tumultuous qualifying campaign.

Unlike the Socceroos, Al-Abyad’s struggles started at the beginning of the third round of AFC qualifying as they went five games without a victory before breaking through with a narrow 1-0 win against Lebanon on November 16.

They would go on to win only twice more to sneak through to the play-off as the third-placed team in Group A.

However, it didn’t come without a major shakeup, with coach Bert van Marwijk - a familiar name to Socceroos fans - relieved of his duties in February.



Argentinian Rodolfo Arruabarrena took charge of their final two qualifiers on February 14 and led the UAE to a shock 1-0 upset of Group A winners Korea Republic.

Arruabarrena has already been given a major boost ahead of the Socceroos clash, with Emirati superstar Omar Abdulrahman rediscovering his top form for club side Shabab Al-Ahli after a string of major injuries.

The Socceroos have a good record against the UAE; winning three times and drawing twice in six matches dating back to their first meeting in January, 2011.

The UAE’s only victory against Australia, however, came in the most recent fixture between the two sides, when they snatched a 1-0 win on home soil in the quarter-final of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

Arruabarrena’s side possess plenty of creativity in the final third, particularly through Brazilian-born Caio Canedo, and the 46-year-old hopes his men will embrace their underdog status and surprise the Socceroos.



“I have been following the press in South America and they are already saying that the (intercontinental play-off) match is going to be between Australia and Peru," Arruabarrena said during a recent press conference.

“But we will try humbly to stop this from happening. We need to work as one team to reach our goal and participate in the World Cup after 30 years of absence.

"We are aiming to qualify. I trust my team in doing that.”


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Published 28 April 2022 at 12:27pm
Source: SBS