THE Socceroos were delivered a massive boost to their World Cup qualifying hopes with news of Saudi Arabia losing to the UAE 2-1.
In a result which has the potential to put the Socceroos on the brink of Russia, attentions now turn to the vital clash with Japan on Thursday night.
Kick-off in Saitama is at 8.30pm AEST on FOX SPORTS 501 HD. You can catch all the build up from 8.00pm AEST and follow live on foxsports.com.au.
Here’s the equation for Japan v Australia and what the different results could mean in Group B…
WHAT IF: The Socceroos beat Japan?
Happy days! We’re off to Russia!
Going into the international break, Australia were third in the group, level on points with the Saudis who occupied second spot.
But their loss to the UAE means a Socceroos win on Thursday will dramatically change the equation.
Australia would then leapfrog both Saudi Arabia and Japan into first place, leaving the Roos on 19 points, Japan on 17 and Saudi Arabia on 16.
With a winner-takes-all final qualifier between Japan and Saudi Arabia to follow, qualification would already be guaranteed before the game against Thailand in Melbourne next Tuesday.
WHAT IF: The Socceroos draw with Japan?
This would still be a brilliant result for Ange Postecoglou’s men considering the final qualification match between Japan and Saudi Arabia.
A draw would leave Japan on 18 points and Australia in second (17 points) ahead of Saudi Arabia (16) in Group B.
That would leave the Socceroos needing a win against Thailand on home soil to guarantee qualification, no matter the result in the other game.
A shock draw to Thailand would leave Australia needing Japan to do them a favour and beat Saudi Arabia to guarantee qualification.
An Australian loss to Thailand would prove to be disastrous and leave Saudi Arabia needing only a draw to move into an automatic qualification spot ahead of the Socceroos.
WHAT IF: Japan beat Australia?
This is another result that would leave Australia in a tricky spot, but with automatic qualification hopes still alive.
A loss to Japan would leave the Samurai Blue on 20 points and Saudi Arabia above Australia leading into the final qualifier for each team.
Should Australia then beat Thailand, they would require Japan to take points off Saudi Arabia on Wednesday morning AEST.
Alternatively, should Australia lost to Japan AND then beat Thailand AND Saudi Arabia later beats Japan, the Socceroos could still reach Russia.
However, that would require a big winning margin (of at least two more than Saudi Arabia’s future result) over Thailand, to overcome the goal difference deficit against Saudi Arabia.
Either way, it would leave qualification out of the Australian hands, a situation Postecoglou is desperate to avoid.
GROUP B: HOW THINGS STAND
GROUP B: HOW THINGS STAND
* Top two qualify automatically for 2018 World Cup. Third place team faces a playoff against the third placed Group A team
UPCOMING GROUP B QUALIFIERS
* Thursday 31 Aug: Japan v Australia, 8.35pm AEST, live on FOX SPORTS 501
* Tuesday 5 September: Australia v Thailand, 8.00pm AEST, live on FOX SPORTS 505
* Wednesday 6 September: Saudi Arabia v Japan, 3.00am AEST, live on FOX SPORTS 505
GROUP A STANDINGS
1/ Iran – 20pts, +8
2/ South Korea – 13pts, +1
3/ Uzbekistan – 12pts, 0
4/ Syria – 9pts, -1
5/ China – 7pts, -4
6/ Qatar – 6pts, -4
CONCACAF STANDINGS >> TOP 3 qualify, fourth goes to AFC play-off
1/ Mexico – 14
2/ Costa Rica – 11
3/ Panama – 8
4/ USA – 7
5/ Honduras – 5
6/ Trinidad and Tobago – 3
Originally published as What Roos must do to qualify after shock Saudi loss
Source: sports dailytelegraph