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

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  • 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.


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...


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City goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic has been called in to the Caltex Socceroos squad, replacing Adam Federici who has withdrawn through injury.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


Australia: 45

Thailand: 130


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.