• The Socceroos celebrate during their 3-0 win against China. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The Socceroos have made the perfect start to the third round of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying with a history-making 3-0 win against China in Doha.
SBS The World Game
3 Sep 2021 - 1:38 PM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2021 - 1:38 PM

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The victory has stretched Australia’s winning streak to nine games for the first time in 24 years and only the second time in the 99 year history of the Socceroos.

Goals to Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitch Duke were the difference, with the Graham Arnold coached side a class above opponents China.

The big win, coupled with Japan’s shock 1-0 loss at home to Oman, means Australia has the early advantage in Group B as they look to secure qualification for a fifth straight World Cup.

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The Socceroos finish the first matchday of the third round on top of group B ahead of Saudi Arabia, who defeated Vietnam 3-1 and Oman.

The top two teams will go through to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the third-placed team getting a play-off.

While there are nine matches remaining for Australia in this stage of qualifying, the result is a good sign for their chances of reaching a fifth straight FIFA World Cup.

Australia big names fire

The return of the Socceroos European based stars proved to be a major boost for Graham Arnold’s squad.

After a nervy opening 15 minutes from the Socceroos, it was overseas based veterans Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Trent Sainsbury who helped right the ship.

Rogic, who has been a player reborn at Celtic with the arrival of Ange Postecoglou as coach, had numerous nice touches and helped create two of Australia’s three goals.

Boyle and Mabil impressed and were rewarded with goals, while Mat Ryan would be happy to walk away with another clean sheet to his name.

Arnold will surely be excited by being able to field a near full-strength team during this international window as well as the dominant performance they delivered in this match.

If the Socceroos can repeat this level of performance next week against Vietnam, then they will be a very good chance of making it two wins from as many matches.

Socceroos not troubled by COVID complications

Venue changes and limited preparation were not enough to slow down the Socceroos against China.

Although a ‘home’ match for the Socceroos, the game was played Doha’s Khalifa International Stadium after quarantine restrictions in Australia forced the match to be moved from Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.

With the squad arriving in Qatar only days before the match, they were only able to complete two training sessions.

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Adding insult to injury, Arnold was without his two assistant coaches with London based Rene Meulensteen testing positive to COVID-19 before travelling to Qatar, while Tony Vidmar chose not to go after being forced to go through two 14 day quarantine periods after returning from the Tokyo Olympics.

These issues could be something the Socceroos will need to get used to during this stage of World Cup qualifying and if Friday morning’s match is anything to go by then it won't be a problem.

The Socceroos will remain on the road with a trip to Hanoi to take on Vietnam on September 7 their next match on their road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Twists and turns await 

Japan's shock loss to Oman on Thursday night should be a warning to the Socceroos that anything could happen in this third stage of World Cup qualifying.

The Samurai Blue were favoured to top the group, and while the Asian football powerhouse will likely get back on course with results in their next matches, it goes to show that every team at this stage will be bringing their best to secure their ticket to Qatar.

Although making a strong start against China, the Socceroos will need to be careful not to slip up against a rapidly improving Vietnam team in their next match on Tuesday night (AEST).

While games against Saudi Arabia and Japan are on paper the toughest challenge Australia will face during these qualifiers, road trips to Oman, Vietnam or China could just as easily be as testing. 

The Socceroos have kicks-tarted their campaign with an impressive win, the challenge now is to keep the results coming.