Who the Socceroos could face in the World Cup play-offs

The Socceroos are holding onto hope of automatic qualification to the 2018 Russia World Cup ahead of their clash with Thailand on Tuesday.

Play offs

Hondurus' Henry Figueroa (L), Syria's Mahmoud Almawas (C), USA's Christian Pulisc Source: Getty Images

Japan sit top of Group B and have already booked their place in next year's showpiece with their 2-0 win over Australia in Saitama last Thursday.

The Socceroos currently sit in third, equal on points with Saudi Arabia, who are ahead on goal difference.

The Samurai Blue play Saudi Arabia in Jeddah in the early hours of Wednesday morning (AEST), with Australia needing to better Saudi Arabia's result.

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So Ange Postecoglou's men must now beat Thailand in Melbourne by a healthy margin to give Australia the best chance of automatic qualification.

Anything less and Australia are likely to confront tricky home-and-away play-offs to book a fourth-straight appearance at the World Cup.

If Australia have to endure the two-phase play-offs they would first face Group A’s third-placed team on October 5 and October 10.

If successful, the Socceroos would then meet the fourth-placed North American nation away on November 6 and at home on November 14.

Here are the teams they're likely to face:

 

PLAY-OFF STAGE ONE

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Syria

About: Sitting in the all import third spot in their group, Syria are on the brink of creating sporting history and have done so despite an array of challenges both on and off the pitch.

Ahead of a make or break clash with Iran in Tehran, Syria have three wins, three draws and three defeats from their nine qualifying matches in Group A.

Syria have scored seven goals so far and conceded six. A 1-0 win against Group A rivals Uzbekistan has been their best match during the current stage of qualifying.

Due to the political unrest in the country, Syria play their home matches at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka, Malaysia.

Matches to come: Iran v Syria, Azadi Stadium Tehran, 1am (AEST) Wednesday.

What they need to secure third spot: Syria sit in the play-off qualification spot equal on points with fourth-placed Uzbekistan but ahead on goal difference. A win against Iran would all but secure their progress to the play-off stage, however a draw or a loss would mean their fate relies on an Uzbekistan loss against Korea Republic.

 

Uzbekistan

About: Uzbekistan were the early favourite to lock down third position after three wins from their opening four games.

However, a down turn in form with four losses from their past five matches has the Uzbeks fighting to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Ahead of their match with Korea Republic, Uzbekistan have four wins and five losses scoring six goals and conceding seven. Their 2-0 win against China has been Uzbekistan’s best result during the current stage of qualifying.

Uzbekistan play their matches at the 34,000 capacity Bunyodkor Stadium in Tashkent.

Matches to play: Uzbekistan v Korea Republic, Bunyodkor Stadium Tashkent, 1am (AEST) Wednesday.

What they need to secure third spot: Uzbekistan need to win by two or more goals against Korea Republic if they are to guarantee a third-place finish in Group A. If Syria lose their match to Iran, a draw will be enough for the Uzbeks. A loss ends any chance of World Cup Qualification.

 

PLAY-OFF STAGE TWO

CONCACAF


Three matches remain in CONCACAF qualifying with final placings unlikely to be decided until the last round of fixtures on October 10.

As the placings currently stand, these are the three sides the Socceroos are most likely to face.

USA

About: The United States Men’s national team have struggled to put together consistent results this qualifying campaign and sit just inside the three automatic qualification spots.

The US suffered a 2-1 loss to Mexico and a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica to open the fifth round of qualifying. The results cost coach Jurgen Klinsmann his job who was sacked in November. Bruce Arena was named as his successor.

Since then the US have failed to show any great improvement and have two wins, two draws and three losses from their seven matches. They have scored eleven goals in qualifying but have also conceded 10.

A 6-0 win against Honduras has been their best result in qualifying to date.

Like the Socceroos, the USA does not have a home stadium with their matches being played at a number of different stadiums throughout qualification.

Matches to Play: Honduras v USA, September 5; USA v Panama, October 6; Trinidad and Tobago v USA , October 10

What they need to secure fourth spot: With three games to play, including matches against qualifying rivals Honduras and Panama, the US can secure their spot in Russia with wins in at least two of their upcoming fixtures. However, Honduras is hot on their tail and any stutters could see the USA finish in fourth and forced to play-off against Asia’s playoff winner.

Honduras

About: A 3-1 win against Trinidad and Tobago in their opening qualifying match was not a sign of things to come for Honduras.

Comprehensive defeats at the hands of USA (6-0) and Mexico (3-0) knocked the Central American nation back down the standings with a horrible goal difference to boot.

With three games left to play, Honduras sit in fourth position with eight points from their seven matches. They have won two games, drawn two and lost three. They have scored eight goals and conceded 15 goals. 

Their home stadium is the 40,000 capacity Estadio Olimpico Metropolititano in the city of San Pedro Sula.

Matches to play: Honduras v USA, September 5; Costa Rica v Honduras, October 6; Honduras v Mexico, October 10

What they need to secure fourth spot: A win against the USA on September 5 would put Honduras on the right track to secure automatic qualification but ultimately they will need two wins from their final three games.
Honduras plays the top three teams in CONCACAF qualifying in the run home leaving them with an almighty task to avoid a play-off with Asia’s playoff winner.

Panama

About: Panama have been the masters of the draw during qualifying taking points from Costa Rica, USA, Honduras and Mexico.

Panama have frustrated their opposition in defensive and low scoring displays, especially against stronger opposition.

They have conceded two goals in a match only once, a 2-2 draw with Honduras.

Panama are in fifth position with three games left to play after recording a win, four draws and two defeats from their seven matches so far. They have scored four goals and conceded five.

Their home stadium is the 45,000 seat capacity Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

Matches to play: Panama v Trinidad and Tobago, September 5; USA v Panama, October 6; Panama v Costa Rica, October 10.

What they need to secure fourth spot: Quite simply Panama will need at least two wins from their final three games, with their clash against the USA a must win fixture. A loss against Trinidad and Tobago could all but rule them out if other results go against them. Will most likely do battle with Honduras to claim fourth spot and a chance to play Asia’s playoff round winner for the chance at World Cup qualification.


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7 min read
Published 4 September 2017 at 12:56pm
Source: SBS The World Game