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Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant notched his first international goal as Australia snatched the win despite a less-than-perfect performance.
While the Socceroos dominated possession in hot and humid conditions at the My Dinh National Stadium in Hanoi on Tuesday, a resolute Vietnam made Arnold’s teamwork overtime for the points.
Rhyan Grant’s first international goal just before half-time was the visitor's only shot on target in a match where Vietnam threatened to end Australia’s winning run.
In the end, though, the Socceroos leave Hanoi with a perfect two wins from two to start the third phase of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, following last Friday’s 3-0 win over China in Qatar.
The victory also means Australia joins Germany (2018), Spain (2010) and Mexico (2006) as the only countries to win 10 straight qualifying matches in a single campaign.
The result sees the Socceroos remain on top of Group B ahead of second-placed Saudi Arabia and Japan in third.
The top two teams will go through to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with the third-placed team being forced to a play-off.
While there are eight 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.
Socceroos get it done despite struggles
It may have been a scrappy performance in Hanoi from the Socceroos, but for coach Graham Arnold the win was the sign of progress for his Australian side.
“Very happy with the effort,” Arnold said after the match.
“Performance obviously could have been better but you’ve got to look at the circumstances and the conditions we played in.
“At the end of the day, another clean sheet ... it’s a sign of a good team when you don’t play your best, but you can still win.”
World Cup qualification is a marathon and there is going to be a number of games where the Socceroos fail to play their best football.
Being able to take all three points on those down days will be imperative to Australia’s chances.
Home games on the horizon?
The Socceroos could receive a major boost to their World Cup qualification hopes with Football Australia boss James Johnson revealing matches against Oman in October and Saudi Arabia could take place in Sydney.
Australia was forced to move its opening clash of the third round of the AFC preliminaries from Sydney’s Bankwest stadium to the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha due to strict quarantine and border restrictions.
FA chief executive Johnson revealed the green and gold were confident of playing matches in front of vaccinated crowds during the two upcoming FIFA international windows in October and November, with the NSW government likely to relax restrictions quicker than other states.
"There’s a policy around getting people back into stadiums (possibly with vaccine certification or negative COVID tests)," Johnson said in an interview with FTBL
"NSW and the federal government have got to the point where they’re just going to open up, push through and get vaccinations to about 70 per cent of the population. That’s when things are going to soften.
"I’m actually confident at this stage that we’ll see crowds at hopefully at least one of those October and November games.”
The Socceroos have not played a match on home soil since October 2019 when they defeated Nepal 5-0 during the previous round of World Cup qualifiers.
Australia will take on Oman (home) and Japan (away) in October, before playing Saudi Arabia (home) and China (away) in November.
Top teams find form
The Socceroos may be on top of Group B after their first two matches, but they will need to keep a close eye on their rivals Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Japan’s shock 1-0 loss to Oman last week was the biggest story from the opening matchday of AFC World Cup qualification round 3, with Samurai Blue the favourites to top the group.
However, it didn’t take long for the Hajime Moriyasu-coached side to bounce back as they edged China 1-0 in Doha on Wednesday morning (AEST).
It was a dominant performance from the Japanese, who stifled the Chinese attack and prevented them from making a single shot on target all match.
The Socceroos would have paid close attention to the match, ahead of their crucial clash with Japan in Saitama next month.
Another side the Socceroos will have eyes on is Saudi Arabia, who made it two wins from as many matches with a narrow 1-0 win on the road against Oman.
The Green Falcons took an early lead and were forced to cling on as they held off wave after wave of Oman attacks throughout the second half.
Saudi Arabia and Australia remain the only two unbeaten sides in Group B after the opening two matches of AFC preliminaries.
The Socceroos will host Saudi Arabia in November, while Australia’s next match will be against Oman on October 7.