Published: Wed, September 06, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Saudi Arabia vs Japan AFC WC Qualifier

Saudi Arabia vs Japan AFC WC Qualifier

A win against already-qualified Iran would've put Syria into the World Cup ahead of South Korea, and the visitors had a 1-0 lead early only to need a stoppage time goal from Al Ahli striker Omar Al Somah to move ahead of Uzbekistan for third place in Group B.

Ange Postecoglou's men are now reliant on Group B victor Japan avoiding defeat in Saudi Arabia early on Wednesday morning (AEST) in order to join Vahid Halilhodzic's side in Russian Federation.

Syria meanwhile leapfrogged the Central Asians into the third play-off spot on superior goal difference after they held IR Iran 2-2 in their final Group A match in Tehran.

Australia will feel harshly done by - as they drew with KSA in Jeddah and then beat them in Adelaide a 3-2 thriller.

Australia defeated Thailand 2-1 at AAMI Park on Tuesday night, but the dominant performance heralding more than 45 shots on goal proved worthless.

Needing Japan to defeat Saudi Arabia away from home on Wednesday morning, things did not turn out that way as the Green Falcons secured automatic qualification with a 1-0 win. It was those three goals that have taken KSA to Russian Federation instead of Australia.

Ange Postecoglou's team will have to face the team from war-torn Syria in the first of two potential play-off ties if the Socceroos are to qualify for the fourth time in a row.

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Ange Postecoglou, hand over mouth, in the moments after Thailand scored.

Australian's are no strangers to the surreal feeling on the last day of qualifying.

Football. 2018 World Cup.

"He comes up with a back three, which for me is not a problem, but the problem is the timing", Bosnich said in commentary for Fox Sports.

Some believe that the Socceroos shouldn't be in this situation in the first place, and blame Postecoglou's decision to swap systems so late in the campaign.

Thailand have also conceded 10 goals in their last 4 away games.

Postecoglou said that it had been a hard qualifying group, and noted that Australia had lost just one game, compared to two each for rivals Japan and Saudi Arabia.

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Postecoglou was happy to return fire.

It's not to be tinkered with for, basically, him to say "I can do this, I can do that, I'm thinking about this for the World Cup".

"A little bit frustrating", Juric said.

The criticism of Postecoglou stems from his refusal to change his philosophies - the back three has been a mixed success at best - and his reluctance to be pragmatic enough to grind out results in the cautious manner of his predecessors Pim Verbeek and Holger Osieck.

The identity of the other play-off opponent won't be known until CONCACAF qualifiers are completed on October 10 but it is likely to be Honduras, Panama or the United States.

Australia lost only one game in their pool but there have been plenty of disappointing results including a 2-all draw against the bottom-placed Thailand.

If Australia had scored four or five, Saudia would have needed a two or three-goal victory to reach Russian Federation. That absence of pressure in the end was a huge telling factor.

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Instead of going out all guns blazing against the War Elephants, Australia were wary of conceding against the unsafe Thais, with Japan-based midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin pulling the strings.

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