With just three games left, the Qantas Socceroos have no room to spare in the race to qualify for Brazil 2014. Here's how it could all work out...
With just a few matches left in Australia-s bid to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the Socceroos are in a difficult position and must adopt a win-at-all costs attitude for the remainder of the qualifiers to advance.
Their biggest rivals, Japan are already in. The Samurai Blue have amassed 13 points from six games and will not be surpassed for top spot unless the Socceroos claim a heroic win in Saitama and Japan then somehow slump to Iraq.
So all that it means there is just one automatic qualifying spot left for those in Group B.
Presently Japan have 13 points from six games, Jordan seven points from six games, Australia six points from five games, Oman five points from six games and Iraq five points from five games.
Should the Socceroos fail to reach second and finish in third they would then play-off against third place in Group A (at this stage likely to be Iran or Qatar) with the winner to then play-off against the fifth-placed CONMEBOL side (likely to be Chile, Venezuela or Uruguay).
Obviously three wins for the Socceroos gets them through to Brazil but even the optimists would concede that is unlikely. They were outplayed by Japan in Brisbane and the hosts are yet to concede at home in this last stage of qualifying, but have scored 10 goals in the process.
In the next round of matches, Oman look set to beat Iraq on recent form, which would eliminate Iraq, while a draw for the Socceroos in Japan would give the hosts the point the need to qualify for Brazil.
After which, the table would look like this: Japan, P7, 14pts; Oman, P7, 9pts; Australia, P6, 7pts; Jordan, P6, 7pts; Iraq P6, 5pts.
The Socceroos would then need to beat Jordan in Melbourne, with Japan traveling to Doha on the same date to face Iraq - but with nothing to play for, how much would the match mean to the Samurai Blue? It would give the manager a chance to try a few new players, but one would still expect Asia-s top side to have too much firepower for the Lions of Mesopotamia.
The two wins to two of Asia-s leading nations would have a profound effect on the table, but one should remember that the Socceroos were shocked by Jordan in Amman and by the 2-2 draw with Oman in Sydney in February.
Should the two big sides win, Japan would finish their qualifying with 17 points from eight matches, while the Socceroos would then jump to second on the table with 10 points, with Oman on nine.
But should the Socceroos draw with Jordan, both teams would be on eight points, with Oman on nine with one match to play.
Both scenarios require Australia to beat Iraq in their final game to qualify automatically and with Jordan hosting Oman at the same time both of those sides would be desperate for a win to either qualify automatically or make the third-place playoff.
The key to the Socceroos- qualification hopes lies with Japan. A win in Japan means qualification becomes almost assured; a draw and their fate remains in their own hands; but should Australia lose in Saitama, fans can expect a nail-biting two weeks in June.
The Qantas Socceroos face Jordan in Melbourne on Tuesday, 11 June 2013, kick-Off 7.00pm (local time). Click here to buy tickets
They then face Iraq in Sydney on Tuesday 18 June, 2013, kick off 7.30pm (local time). Click here to buy tickets
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