The Socceroos place in the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar will boil down to their upcoming date with Peru in the intercontinental playoff next Tuesday – with the winner booking their place in the showcase tournament later this year.
Australia have had to overcome several obstacles just to reach this point. After a promising start to the AFC Asian Qualifiers, where they initially sat top of their group, a run of frustrating draws and defeats saw them drop out of the two automatic qualification spots.
Saudi Arabia topped the group while old foes Japan leapfrogged the Socceroos to take the final position on offer.
This left the Socceroos with the dreaded playoff path which they have already had to navigate more than once over the past decade.
Their last FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign saw them have to knock off Syria as well as tricky home and away ties against Honduras before they were eventually able to book their ticket to Russia.
Fast forward five years and the Socceroos are in the same predicament. They have already completed 50% of the job by seeing off the UAE in the early hours of Wednesday morning (AEST) in Qatar but what awaits them is a sterner test as they gear up to meet Peru.
The Socceroos are no strangers to their South American opponents with the two facing off at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Sochi.
On that occasion, it was the Peruvians who came out on top 2-0 in what was the final group stage match which saw both sides bow out of the tournament.
Make or Break
This will be the Socceroos’ ultimate test – will they step up to the plate once again?
The fate of Graham Arnold’s men will be decided come Tuesday morning (June 14) in Doha. Beat Peru and a fifth straight FIFA World Cup appearance awaits them as they join Group D alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia.