Why Thailand really is a must-win clash

The Caltex Socceroos destiny is no longer in their hands when it comes to automatic qualification for the World Cup.

Australia now must defeat Thailand by a significant enough margin to hold off the potential challenge of Saudi Arabia in next week’s final Group B matches in AFC World Cup qualification.

The team which finishes third in the group will face a play-off against a Group A side, before an intercontinental play-off against a CONCACAF opponent.

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1. The Saudis will play Japan at home in front of a raucous crowd a few hours after Australia’s clash with Thailand on Sept 5 in Melbourne (around 4.30am). 

2. Japan have already qualified for the World Cup and so their match against the Saudis at the King Abdullah Stadium in Jeddah has less significance for them.

3. To qualify in the automatic top two spots, Australia must win against Thailand by a margin enough to overtake the Saudis (depending on their result against the Japanese). 

4. Australia will therefore hope that Japan can beat, or at least draw with the Saudis and they win against the Thais. 

5. If Australia and Saudi Arabia finish equal on points and goals scored and goal difference is also equal, then it will go down to a head to head (which Australia has in their favour after a win and a draw).