As the year draws to a close and the Socceroos look ahead to the end of the AFC Asian Qualifiers, we look back at some of the most impressive individual and team statistics from 2021.
When the Socceroos defeated Jordan 1-0 in the second round of World Cup qualifiers in 2019, they were completely unaware that their qualification campaign would be halted for 567 days.
But despite COVID-19 pausing the side's momentum for one-and-a-half years, the Socceroos made no mistake picking up where they left off when they brushed aside Kuwait 3-0 to resume their qualification campaign 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 next match in June saw the side notch up their highest possession ratio of the campaign (78.2%) as they recorded a 5-1 victory against Chinese Taipei in Kuwait.
The Socceroos' third match in June was a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nepal in Kuwait while the final match of Group B saw Australia grind out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Jordan.
Not only did the result confirm back-to-back victories over Jordan for the first time ever, it was the Socceroos' eighth consecutive victory.
While the Socceroos cruised into the third stage of qualifying with an unblemished record and an eighth-straight win in a single campaign for the first time, there were plenty more impressive stats to emerge from June.
Graham Arnold's side notched an impressive 12 goals in four games while conceding just once.
On an individual note, Harry Souttar had a 100% success rate in the air as he won all 19 of his aerial duels in June – by far the most of any player.
In the absence of Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic for Australia’s June qualifiers, Ajdin Hrustic took up the mantle and flourished in the number 10 role.
Not only did he deliver a man of the match performance on debut, but he also created the most scoring chances in one match of any player during the June qualifiers.
Just under a month later, the Socceroos kicked off the third round of AFC qualification with two victories against China and Vietnam.
By doing so, Australia became the only nation in the Asian Football Confederation to win ten FIFA World Cup qualifying matches in succession.
Socceroos winger Awer Mabil was outstanding during these matches. He created more scoring chances (5) and logged more shots on target (5) than any other player in September’s Asian World Cup Qualifiers.
A month later, Australia continued their extraordinary winning run after seeing off Oman 3-1 in Qatar.
With 11 wins on the bounce, the Socceroos set the record for the longest winning streak in a single World Cup qualification campaign.
Only three nations – Germany (Russia 2018), Spain (South Africa 2010), and Mexico (Germany 2006) – had previously won ten successive matches in a single qualification campaign.
While Australia’s winning run would come to an end with a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat against Japan in their next match, the Socceroos can be proud of what they achieved.
After playing out two draws against Saudi Arabia and China in November to close out 2021, the Socceroos will be itching to bounce back and record more milestones once their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualification campaign resumes in early 2022.
2021 Stats Summary
Matches played: 10
Goals scored: 21
Goals conceded: 5
Top goalscorer: Mitchell Duke (5)
Locations played: Kuwait, Qatar, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates.