The squad is in and we're less than two weeks away from the Caltex Socceroos' opening match on the way to qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
As we learned on the path to the 2018 tournament in Russia, qualification through Asia is a long and testing process with plenty of tricky matches and challenges along the way.
The Caltex Socceroos are aiming to qualify for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup finals tournament and – along with 39 other AFC nations – will need to navigate through two qualifying phases to do get there.
Ahead of the first match against Kuwait on September 11 (AEST), we break down all you need to know for the journey to Qatar 2022.
How do we qualify?
There’s 40 nations involved in this phase of qualifying which have been split into eight groups, each featuring five countries.
Those five sides will compete in a round-robin format playing each other nation twice, with four games at home and four away, as well as two byes.
The Caltex Socceroos will need to finish as one of the eight group winners or four best runners-up (12 nations) to advance to the final round of AFC qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Those same 12 countries will then be split into two groups of six for the next phase of AFC qualifying, where four teams – the top two from each group - will automatically book their spot in Qatar.
Two other countries will then battle it out through an Asian play-off round and an intercontinental round to try and be among the 32 nations to play at the showpiece tournament.
This is a scenario the Caltex Socceroos know all about, having defeated Syria and Honduras in the playoff rounds to book their spot at the 2018 tournament in Russia.
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Who's in our group?
The official draw for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ – Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 was held at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur in July.
The Caltex Socceroos were drawn in Group B and will come up against Jordan, Chinese Taipei, Kuwait and Nepal in this phase of their qualification.
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Australia will play all eight matches – four at home and four away – between September 10, 2019 and June 9, 2020.
Check out the Caltex Socceroos’ full list of qualifiers in this phase over the next nine months.
September 2019 – FIFA Window: 2-10 September
- Thursday 5th September – bye
- Tuesday 10th September – Kuwait v Caltex Socceroos
October 2019 – FIFA window 7-15 October
- Thursday 10th October – Caltex Socceroos v Nepal
- Tuesday 15th October – Chinese Taipei v Caltex Socceroos
November 2019 – FIFA Window: 11-19 November
- Thursday 14th November – Jordan v Caltex Socceroos
- Tuesday 19th November – bye
March 2020 – FIFA Window: 23-31 March
- Thursday 26th March – Caltex Socceroos v Kuwait
- Tuesday 31st March – Nepal v Caltex Socceroos
June 2020 – FIFA Window: 1 June-12 July
- Thursday 4th June – Caltex Socceroos v Chinese Taipei
- Tuesday 9th June – Caltex Socceroos v Jordan
How to watch
Every Caltex Socceroos FIFA World Cup qualifier will be shown LIVE on Fox Sports.
You can also keep up to date with all the goals and action in our LIVE MATCH BLOG on www.socceroos.com.au.
What happened in the last cycle?
Australia’s long and winding journey to the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ set a new benchmark that may never be eclipsed.
The Caltex Socceroos had to get through 22 qualifying matches on the road to Russia, the most by any nation to qualify for world football’s biggest tournament.
In doing so, they clocked-up an incredible 240,000 kilometres as they criss-crossed Asia numerous times before the final intercontinental play-off round.
Ange Postecoglou’s side scored an impressive 51 goals along the way, starting impressively in the first phase of qualifying as they cruised through the group stage.
But a couple of draws on the road and a loss to Japan in the penultimate game meant Australia finished third in the group behind the Samurai Blue and Saudi Arabia.
A nail-biting 3-2 aggregate win over Syria in October 2017 booked a winner-takes-all match-up with Central American nation Honduras.
After a goalless first leg on the road, a packed ANZ Stadium welcomed the Caltex Socceroos home with skipper Mile Jedinak’s hat-trick resulting in a 3-1 win and ensured Australia booked their ticket to Russia.