Saudi Arabia
2
World Cup Qualifiers
(Thu 06 Oct 2016, 08.45PM LOCAL)
FINAL
Venue: King Abdullah Sports City, Jeddah
Fox Sports
Channel 9
Australia
2

Timeline

Socceroos pumped for Jeddah atmosphere

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Ange coy on starting XI

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Ange: 'We're prepared to win'

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FFA TV | Socceroos ready for Saudi test

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Socceroos pumped for Jeddah atmosphere
Socceroos pumped for Jeddah atmosphere
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Ange coy on starting XI
Ange coy on starting XI
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Ange: 'We're prepared to win'
Ange: 'We're prepared to win'
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FFA TV | Socceroos ready for Saudi test
FFA TV | Socceroos ready for Saudi test

Preview: Saudi Arabia v Caltex Socceroos

The seemingly unstoppable Green and Gold are back in the Middle East for a top-two showdown with the unbeaten Saudis in the port city of Jeddah on Friday morning (AEDT).

For the Green Falcons - in this the final phase of group qualification - Australia is their litmus test. How strong are the Saudis? We'll find out soon enough. 

Thus far Saudi Arabia have taken all three points against Thailand and Iraq. 

Caltex Socceroos’ opposition dossier: Saudi Arabia

But the Caltex Socceroos are a different proposition and a real pointer to their qualification credentials under Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk.

And if those first two games are any gauge, the Saudis have seemingly perfected the art of scoring late with classy playmaker Nawaf Al Abed on target after the 80th minute against both Thailand (1-0) and Iraq (2-1, both from the spot). 

Coincidentally, at club level the 26-year-old has also scored after just two seconds in what could be a world record 

No doubt Al Abed is a danger. And that ACL final loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in Riyadh two years ago will still rankle with the Al-Hilal man. 

That said, van Marwijk - who took his native Holland to the 2010 World Cup, losing to Spain 1-0 in the final – knows he’ll be pushed to the limit by the energy and relentless game plan of Ange Postecoglou’s men.

Australia will have an even fitter Tim Cahill to call on if need be and a month after bossing Iraq in Perth then UAE in Abu Dhabi, the unbeaten Aussies will be full of confidence that their game plan will produce joy in Jeddah.

It is the first of two huge games for both nations.

After Jeddah, Australia flies to Melbourne for a blockbuster date with Japan, while the Saudis host the UAE, both on October 11.

The Saudis were a powerhouse AFC nation in recent decades, winning the Asian Cup three times in the 80s and 90s and qualifying for World Cups from 1994 to 2006, including a fabulous World Cup USA, where they made the Round of 16.

But the landscape changed and the Saudis lost some of their lustre (though they are still ranked reasonably high, 52 in the world and fifth in Asia). 

They will feel it’s their time to reassert their power in the region and winning this one will go a long way to supercharging their World Cup qualification hopes (though you feel a draw might be considered a good enough outcome). 

Over recent times the Green Falcons looked to talisman and striker Yasser Al Qahtani (Wanderers fans may remember him from the ACL final against Al Hilal in 2014) to provide inspiration. 

These days captain Osama Hawsawi is their defensive rock and Al Abed their key playmaker and danger. And a familiar face also returns – Nasser Al Shamrani. The controversial figure from the ACL final of 2014 may come off the bench late if the Saudis need a game changer. 

Former Wanderers Matt Spiranovic and Tomi Juric will surely remember him. 

This should be epic clash at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium with the weather expected to be around 30 degrees for the 8.45pm kick off.

The only change to Australia’s squad at time of writing is the return of striker Apo Giannou, in for the injured Milos Degenek.

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FFA TV | Socceroos share spoils with Saudis Play Video

FFA TV | Socceroos share spoils with Saudis

Mat Leckie felt a draw was a fair result after the Caltex Socceroos and Saudi Arabia finished 2-2 in Jeddah.

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FFA TV | Socceroos share spoils with Saudis

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Ange reacts to draw in Saudi

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Caltex Socceroos v Saudi Arabia highlights

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FFA TV | Socceroos share spoils with Saudis
FFA TV | Socceroos share spoils with Saudis
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Ange reacts to draw in Saudi
Ange reacts to draw in Saudi
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Caltex Socceroos v Saudi Arabia highlights
Caltex Socceroos v Saudi Arabia highlights

Caltex Socceroos' gutsy draw in Saudi Arabia

The Caltex Socceroos have drawn 2-2 with Saudi Arabia to keep their unbeaten record in final phase of World Cup qualifying after Friday morning’s (AEDT) electric clash in front of over 60,000 fans in Jeddah.

After Saudi Arabia took an early advantage it was Socceroo defender Trent Sainsbury who equalised on the stroke of half time with a glancing header from a corner.

And with 20 minutes left, Tomi Juric guided home a low cross at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah to make it 2-1. 

But the Saudis hit back with ten minutes left to ensure a nerve wracking final few minutes with keeper Mat Ryan pulling off a sensational stop to keep the hosts out. 

Australia now has seven points from three games heading into Tuesday’s clash with Japan in Melbourne.

The Saudis’ game plan worked a treat early.

They pressed high, asked the questions of Australia and with a huge crowd behind them got their reward early.

The dangerous Nawaf Al Abed with the detp touch to play a teammate in and the cut back was met by the on-rushing Taisir Al-Jassim who guided it home low past Mat Ryan.

But as it often transpires, Australia weathered the storm and worked their way back into the contest.

Whilst not at their regal best, the Caltex Socceroos pushed the Saudis back with Celtic’s Tom Rogic a constant threat down the middle.

It was Rogic who set up central striker Juric who put the ball into the net but it was adjudged offside.

Just before half time Brad Smith’s surging run and shot was the best chance for the Australians. However, two minutes later Aaron Mooy directed a perfect corner onto the head of Sainsbury who guided it home to send the teams into the break on level terms.

Matt Leckie was close to a goal attempt after a low cross from Juric was intercepted by keeper. But the crowd lifted when Nasser Al Shamrani was injected as a substitute for the Saudis.

“The Earthquake” had an immediate impact. Matt Spiranovic with blocking defence inside the box to keep the home side out as the Saudi striker’s presence was felt immediately.

But it was sublime Rogic again, this time playing through Robbie Kruse down the wing and his low cross was met by Juric who guided the ball home from in front of goal.

The crowd was stunned but it was that man Al Shamrani who got the vital touch in a crowded box to help guide the ball home after Australia was opened up by a cut back from Al-Jassim.

With just over 11 minutes left it was 2-2 and game on as the crowd lifted.

And had it not been for Mat Ryan, it should’ve been 3-2 after the Saudis sprung the offside trap but the Valencia keeper saved brilliantly to keep Australia in the game.

Australia hit back in the final few minutes as the Saudis held on for the draw. 

The Caltex Socceroos now head to Melbourne for another group blockbuster, this time at home to Japan.