The Socceroos’ defeat to Japan last month cost them not just first place in Group B of the World Cup qualification process for 2022, but also the title as Asia’s best team. Both were transferred to Saudi Arabia, who arrived in Sydney ahead of Thursday’s crucial match three points ahead of the competition leaders and on an eight-game winning streak on the road to Qatar. It’s no surprise, then, that the Green Falcons are full of self-assurance.
“We have beaten stronger teams than Australia, and with the current group of players we are able to return from there with full points,” On Sunday, Saudi defender Ahmed Sharahili remarked. After the triumph over Japan last month, only five days before the Samurai Blue returned home to beat the Socceroos, a first victory over Australia in 24 years and the first outside Riyadh would be something to celebrate.
The visitors would likewise be in a dominant position. Saudi Arabia has four wins from four games in the penultimate round of qualification, and they are three points ahead of Australia and six points ahead of Oman and Japan in a group where only the top two teams qualify for the World Cup. Another win puts the west Asian nation on 15 points from five games, just four points short of their total tally of 19 in ten games in 2018 World Cup qualification – a total good enough to put them second behind Australia on goal difference, leaving the third-placed team relying on Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak to get past Syria and Honduras in the play-offs. In short, Saudi Arabia’s tenth win in a row puts them in a strong position.
source : guardian sport