Australia
2
World Cup Qualifiers
( LOCAL)
FINAL
Venue: AAMI Park
Attendance: 26393
Fox Sports
Channel 9
Thailand
1

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Caltex Socceroos: the time is now

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FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk

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FFA TV | Milicic’s final word before Thailand

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Home game crucial for Socceroos: Ange

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Caltex Socceroos: the time is now
Caltex Socceroos: the time is now
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FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk
FFA TV | Caltex Socceroos team walk
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FFA TV | Milicic’s final word before Thailand
FFA TV | Milicic’s final word before Thailand
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Home game crucial for Socceroos: Ange
Home game crucial for Socceroos: Ange

Preview: Caltex Socceroos v Thailand

The Caltex Socceroos play their tenth and final Group B qualifier with their World Cup dreams still well and truly alive, despite Thursday's loss to Japan in Saitama.

A win in tonight at a sold out Melbourne Rectangular Stadium will boost Australia's World Cup hopes - particularly if there are lots of goals for the men in green and gold.

But it'll be a restless night as rivals Saudi Arabia wrap their campaign at home to Japan a few hours later.

EXPLAINER: Caltex Socceroos' task against Thailand

EXPLAINER: Group A's thrilling finish

THE STORY SO FAR

  • Japan's win over the Caltex Socceroos secured their passage to Russia 2018 as Group B winners.
  • One more team will automatically qualify; currently Saudi Arabia and Australia are level on 16 points with one game left to play.
  • Saudi Arabia have a slightly better goal difference of +6 compared to Australia's +4.
  • The third-placed side in the group will play the third-placed side in Asian Group A for a place in the inter-continental playoff against the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

If Australia beats Thailand and Saudi Arabia doesn't beat Japan, Australia will qualify for Russia 2018.

If Australia draws with Thailand and Saudi Arabia loses to Japan, Australia will qualify for Russia 2018.

If both games finish in a draw, Saudi Arabia will finish second with a better goal difference and Australia will enter the playoff scenario outlined above.

If both Australia and Saudi Arabia win, Australia will have to better the Saudis' winning margin by three goals in order to finish second (Australia currently has a two-goal deficit in goals scored). 

Regardless of Australia's result, they'll have to wait a few agonizing hours to find out if they have finished second in their group, because Saudi Arabia and Japan don't kick-off in Jeddah until 3.30am Wednesday morning (AEST).

The absolutely worst case scenario is an Australian loss to Thailand and a win by the UAE over Iraq, which, depending on the scorelines, could see Australia drop to fourth in the group and miss out altogether.

But let's not even go down that path...

AUSTRALIAN SQUAD NEWS

Melbourne City goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic has been called in to the Caltex Socceroos squad, replacing Adam Federici who has withdrawn through injury.

EPL star Aaron Mooy has recovered from the illness that kept him out of the loss to Japan and the Huddersfield Town man is fit to take his place in the side.

CURRENT WORLD RANKINGS

Australia: 45

Thailand: 130

FINAL WORD

There really is nothing to match the drama and tension of the final match-day of World Cup qualifying.

Australia's World Cup fate hinges on the last three Group B matches.

But the only thing they can control is their own game.

Their assignment is to beat Thailand in Melbourne and to do it comfortably.

The Caltex Socceroos will be chasing a big win against Thailand to help them qualify for next year's FIFA World Cup.

Once that is achieved, we can all get a few hours’ sleep before Japan and Saudi Arabia kick-off in Jeddah.

Then, for those ninety minutes, we all become fans of the Samurai Blue.

Whatever happens, by breakfast time on Wednesday we'll know if Ange Postecoglou's men can pack their bags for Russia 2018 or whether they'll face more tough qualification games to reach a fourth successive FIFA World Cup.

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Fine margins cost Socceroos

Ange Postecoglou admits it was only small details that cost the Caltex Socceroos automatic World Cup qualification and praised his players for their performances.

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Socceroos down Thailand in Melbourne

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Socceroos down Thailand in Melbourne
Socceroos down Thailand in Melbourne

Late drama as Caltex Socceroos see off Thais

The Caltex Socceroos have defeated Thailand 2-1 in their final Group B World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night, putting the pressure back on Saudi Arabia as automatic qualification to Russia 2018 reaches a thrilling climax.

Relive all the action in the official match centre

With six changes made to the starting XI against Japan last week, and captained by national team legend Tim Cahill, there was a sense of urgency from the start on a cool night in Melbourne.

But the Thais rode their luck and defended desperately, while pint-size attacker Chanathip Songkrasin was a constant threat to Mat Ryan’s goal.

But they could only hold out for so long as the desperate Aussies pressed for as many goals as they could.

Australia will now hope Japan can do them a favour by winning or drawing in Jeddah overnight against the Saudis. If the Saudis win they'll progress as one of the two automatic qualifiers. 

STORY OF THE GAME

• Australia hit the post three times as they peppered the Thai goal with raid after raid.

• The Thai game plan was to defend in numbers, stay compact but try to hit on the break with their fast and tricky forwards, in particular the classy “Thai Messi” Chanathip Songkrasin.

• Just before the break Tomi Juric missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring, smashing his shot just wide.

• It was 0-0 at the break but within minutes of the restart the Thais had a strong penalty shout waved away after a challenge by Trent Sainsbury.

• But three late goals ensured there was plenty of drama with the Aussies scoring twice in the final 20 minutes to cancel out plucky Thailand's effort. 

GOALS

Socceroos 1-0 Juric 69’

Aaron Mooy with plenty of time to measure his in-swinging cross from the left and Juric was first to it to guide the ball home

Tomi Juric fired the Socceroos ahead with just over 20 minutes remaining as Australia defeated Thailand 2-1 in Melbourne.

Thailand 1-1 A-Nan 82’

Australia were opened up down their right, and Notechaiya’s cutback from A-Nan who buried his first time shot.

Socceroos 2-1 Leckie 86’

After a corner wasn’t deal with, Leckie was first to a loose ball in the box to bury it home.