Stat Attack: The numbers behind our long qualifying journey

After the celebrations of Australia's historic penalty shootout victory over Peru, we look back at some of the stats from our long journey to a fifth-consecutive FIFA World Cup™.

After travelling 155,000 miles to set the record for the longest distance travelled in a single qualifying campaign to book a place at Russia 2018, the Socceroos had to do it the hard way again. 

Just like in 2005 against Uruguay, Australia beat Peru on penalties to secure the penultimate spot at this year’s FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

While it was John Aloisi who stole the headlines 16 years ago at Stadium Australia, this time around it was Andrew Redmayne who became a hero after saving a penalty to send the nation to a fifth consecutive World Cup.

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Given the challenges of recent years, the achievement is all the more remarkable. 

It was a qualification campaign that stretched a whopping 1,008 days and saw the Socceroos play just four of its 20 qualification matches on home soil.

11 different opponents were faced in 15 different stadiums with 48 players rotating through the Socceroos squad including 17 debutants. Interestingly, from that list of debutants, seven youngsters have secured moves to European clubs.

The journey started back in September 2019 with a 3-0 win over Kuwait but just a few months later, the global COVID-19 pandemic halted the qualification campaign for 567 days. 

Despite the pandemic pausing the side's momentum for one-and-a-half years, the Socceroos made no mistake picking up where they left off when they again brushed aside Kuwait 3-0 to resume their qualification campaign in June. 

Socceroos v Kuwait Promo Overlay
The Socceroos beat Kuwait 3-0 to resume qualification in June.

It was a fifth-straight win for the Socceroos for the first time since October 2011, and a fourth-straight win away from home for the first time since 2002. However, things would only get better from here. 

The Socceroos would go on to make history by becoming the first nation in FIFA World Cup™️ qualifying history to win 11 consecutive matches in a single qualification campaign.

Only three nations – Germany (Russia 2018), Spain (South Africa 2010), and Mexico (Germany 2006) had previously won 10 successive matches in a single qualification campaign.

This was all achieved despite COVID-19 having an even greater impact as the campaign wore on. Border restrictions limited home games and stopped a raft of Australian-based players from travelling to multiple games. Others missed matches after contracting the illness.

After being forced to navigate the play-offs, the task only got harder. Qualification for a fifth-consecutive World Cup came down to two one-off fixtures against UAE and Peru.

The team overcame a slow start to deliver a brilliant second half and a 2-1 win against UAE. Prior to beating Peru, 68th-ranked UAE was the highest-ranked opponent the Socceroos had beaten in Graham Arnold’s entire tenure.

Socceroos UAE
The Socceroos secured a gripping 2-1 over UAE courtesy of goals from Jackson Irvine and Ajdin Hrustic.

Having produced their best performance in months to overcome UAE and set up a do-or-die clash with Peru, the Socceroos came up against a South American nation in form. 

Ranked 22nd in the world, they were a slick and well-drilled unit. Prior to facing Australia, Peru had only lost one of their last nine men’s internationals (W6, D2) and had won their last two on the bounce.

Since the 2018 World Cup, when they beat the Socceroos 2-0 in their only other meeting, Peru had finished in the top four at the Copa America twice, beaten Brazil, and finished fifth in the brutal CONMEBOL qualification conference. 

To make matters worse, the Socceroos were winless in their last seven men’s internationals against CONMEBOL opposition (D2, L5); the last win in such a fixture came against Paraguay in October 2010.

But with so much shaping up against them, the Socceroos managed to find a way to win. 

Scenes from the Socceroos World Cup qualification

As the iconic stories goes, Arnold stunned onlookers with a few minutes left in extra time by taking off goalkeeper and captain Mat Ryan and replacing him with Redmayne.

And the gamble paid off. After 12 wins and 45 goals scored, it was Redmayne’s penalty save that secured the Socceroos' 13th win in World Cup qualifying and a place at Qatar 2022.

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