Match Preview: Australia vs Palestine FIFA World Cup Qualifier
The Subway Socceroos will conclude their November qualifiers against Palestine on Wednesday morning (1:00am AEDT), at the neutral ground of Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, in Kuwait City.
Having dispatched Bangladesh in style just five days earlier, the Australians are looking to extend their lead at the top of Group I, with tonight’s match being the last competitive outing before January’s AFC Asian Cup.
In our most recent clash, against 183rd rank Bangladesh at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, the Subway Socceroos’ forward line were prolific in front of goal, with seven goals scored and none conceded on a night where Australia record their largest victory in almost five years.
Graham Arnold was justified in his decision to select four centre forwards in his squad [Yengi, Borrello, Duke, Maclaren], with the unique skillsets of his front men coming to the fore, as all four became involved in memorable moments throughout the match.
Mitchell Duke secured a first-half brace which included a trademark looping header, Brandon Borrello tucked home his second ever international goal, Kusini Yengi caused havoc off the bench during his international debut, while Jamie Maclaren saved the best for last, registering a second-half hat-trick.
Other strong performers included Connor Metcalfe who created two assists in his new position on the right of midfield, while full-backs Lewis Miller and Jordi Bos slotted in seamlessly, having spent time away from the national team.
Graham Arnold’s goal-scoring riches will increase further, heading into the Palestine clash, with winger Martin Boyle returning to camp, having been unavailable for the first match. The Hibernian man has previously been one of the first named on the team-sheet yet will face stiff competition this time around.
The newest inclusion to the squad, Portsmouth forward Kusini Yengi, came on for the last twenty minutes against Bangladesh, and will be hoping to land his first international start come Wednesday morning.
There is plenty of experience and trust amongst those who failed to receive minutes against Bangladesh, with Ryan Strain, Kye Rowles, Samuel Silvera, and Alessandro Circati having all been recently called upon by coach Graham Arnold, to play crucial roles against strong opponents.
Goalkeepers Joe Gauci and Ashley Maynard-Brewer are also in-line for selection, with the latter awaiting his international debut, after a brilliant vein of form for Charlton Athletic in League One this season.
Due to the on-going conflict within the regions of Israel and Palestine, Wednesday’s match has been relocated to the neutral stadium of Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City. The Subway Socceroos have recently found themselves comfortable in the warm and dry climate of the Middle East, with the capital city of Kuwait being no exception.
The green and gold have ventured to Kuwait City across both the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, winning both matches 0-3 and 0-4 against the home nation.
However, this will be the first time that Australia and Palestine meet in a qualifier, having previously played against each other once, during the 2019 AFC Asian Cup, where the Aussies emerged victorious on that occasion 3-0, thanks to goals from Jamie Maclaren, Awer Mabil, and Apostolos Giannou.
Current FIFA Rankings
Head-to-head vs Palestine
- Australia took 14 shots against England in the last international window; prior to that, the last side equal or beat that record so was Italy in the Euro 2020 Final, 26 games before (824 days).
- Lewis Miller has made the most successful dribbles (14), won the most fouls( 31), won the most duels (99) and made the most interceptions (20) of all fullbacks in the Scottish Premiership.
- Harry Souttar, as a central defender, has netted six goals out of 16 appearances for the Socceroos - scoring a goal roughly every three games from defence.
Jordan Bos, despite being a left-footed left-back, took more shots with his right-foot (13) than his stronger leg (12) in the A-League Men last campaign.
- Last season in the A-League Men, Brandon Borello netted 13 goals from an expected of 7.83, overperforming his xG by 5.17.
- Jamie Maclaren has netted six goals in the first five games of the new campaign for club and country, an average of 1.2 goals per match.
What They Said
The most important thing for me was the mentality from the boys. If they had a mindset of complacency, then we wouldn’t have had that performance. Every player on the pitch put in 100% - they weren’t sloppy at all, which was good. We still need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal. It could have been double figures easily and it should have been. Those things we’ve got to learn to be more ruthless and finish them off.
A goal of ours was to get three or four goals in the first half so I could take off three of the older boys [Jackson Irvine, Craig Goodwin and Mitchell Duke] to get them ready for Palestine. Each time we did that [played home and then away], our second game was average - we dropped points. I’ve got to change something to try and fix that.
It's just about being professional. The same approach has kind of gone into this game as any other really, the big thing, I think us was that we got a chartered flight over and it helped with a recovery massively. I think we changed it, so we had an extra day recovery back in Australia. And I think the consensus from everyone in the team is that's helped massively for us. Training yesterday, the lads looked really good, really fresh and we're excited to train on the train on the stadium today and it just can't wait to get going for tomorrow.
We've kind of looked at clips as we always do every team, and we'll have another couple of meetings today going into the game, just about kind of their strikers, midfielders, their positions and the players that we'll come up against.
I wanted to be [Bangladesh match]. Arnie [Graham Arnold] knows I wanted to be there. I want to play every game - selfish as it is. They made a plan that was best suited for me, and I accepted that. Thankfully, I’ve managed to travel to this [Palestine] game, and it’s always an honour for me.
I love Lewis [Miller], I thought he was brilliant [on Thursday night]. I try to help him as much as I can at Hibs. I told him when I saw him this morning that he should have had seven assists instead of one! But he’s a fantastic player. He’s got all the attributes when you look at him, and he’s still a young boy. Hopefully, he can keep progressing.
Having that direct charter flight makes it easier - it’s a lot better than having to stop over in a country nearby, making the trip 24 hours in total. So, it cuts that down and gives us that chance for extra treatment, and hopefully we’ll have the boys fresh for the game.
I think a lot of us are well equipped with experiencing these kinds of campaigns and the atmosphere that we’ll have. I think it’s going to be a very hostile environment for us, but it doesn’t change our game plan, our mentality and the way that we want to play. We believe we should be qualifying for this World Cup directly, and putting in a really good performance is another step towards that.
It’s seven goals but it could’ve been more, for myself as well, but we move on. It’s three points. We head to Kuwait now. You always strive for better and we know we could’ve scored a lot more. The boys in the back were solid; not even sure Maty [Ryan] had a save to make. Proud of the team but we know the next game is going to be a lot harder.
It’s a new group, and it’s a new chapter as well, there’s some young boys coming through keeping us older boys on our toes.
It was pretty special being back. I’ve spent many years here and starting for your country is always an honour, I thought we did really well as a team. I think [Thursday] just shows that we’ve got the quality to do that [create and finish chances], and we’re definitely going to take that into the next game.
The attacking side of my game has probably become a bit better because I’m playing a different role at my club compared to what I was playing back at City. So I’ve had to adapt to that situation, and I think being able to play two or three different positions benefits me, and it gives me much more opportunity to play.
[Jackson Irvine] has helped me a lot. He’s the captain at my club. He’s a big role model on and off the field. He’s always there to tell me when to pull my head in or to do better on the pitch.
I’m just glad to be amongst this wonderful group, some high-quality players. Hopefully, we can continue to perform and get a few wins. I like to get involved no matter what the scenario is. You’ve got to give 120% representing not only yourself but your country - it’s a great honour to put on the badge.
Individually, everyone did their job and they knew what they had to do. It was very clear when we got out and stepped on the field. You saw on the pitch today that we’re clinical upfront and in that transition to defence, we’re switched on as well.
The goal celebration is the letter ‘B’ for my son, Bodie. I flew him up from Newcastle. It was the first time I was able to share in a celebration with him, which was nice and special. It was his idea to have the celebration ‘B’, and I was happy to be able to do that twice.
[Palestine] going to be a whole different ball game I think, a whole different challenge for us, and we’ve got to make sure we’re mentally ready. It’s an away game as well, so it’s going to be a great atmosphere.
Whether it's (Duke) ‘Dukie’ whether it's (Maclaren) ‘Macca’, or whether it's even (Yengi) ‘Kuss’, there seems to be a really good understanding. It's more so building that relationship, we've got enough time in training to sort of gel striker partners, which is good. And it shows, it's been a great start to our campaign, we got to score a lot of goals in front of a great home crowd.
We know it's going to be an extremely tough game over in Kuwait, but we're prepared for the challenge. And I'm sure you know, the coaching staff will do everything to prepare us, the right way.
How to Watch
READ MORE: How to watch: Palestine vs Australia
FIFA WORLD CUP 2026™️ SECOND ROUND ASIAN QUALIFIERS:
Palestine v Subway Socceroos
Tuesday, 21 November
Jaber Al-Ahmed International Stadium, Kuwait
Kick-off: 5.00pm (local) / 1am AEDT (Wednesday, 22 November)
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+