• Matt Olsen

The Socceroos World Cup qualification hopes can still firmly be in their own hands

As the Socceroos World Cup qualifiers reach match days seven and eight, Graham Arnold's side will enter a fascinating situation.


With talk of potential slip-ups and a lack of faith in the squad and manager, there is still a winnable scenario that awaits Australia.


Socceroos fans should believe that the fate of this generation is still ultimately within their grasp.

The Socceroos training camp this week was held at Lakeside Stadium. (Getty Images)


To put the situation in more blunt terms, the path forward is not the disaster many describe it as.


Compared to the Russia 2018 qualifying campaign, this team has done well to ensure they have not been rooted to third in the group.


The downfall of the Japanese squad and their persistent issues under local manager Hajime Moriyasu mean a crucial game against Saudi Arabia on matchday eight will provide all the pressure necessary.


During this same period, Australia will be under the home comforts of AAMI Park against Group B minnows Vietnam.


Then a spirited Omani side awaits when the Socceroos travel to a far less hostile Muscat.


This immediate scenario for gain points puts the high-pressure nature of the situation away from the supposedly doomed Socceroos.


Provided Arnold's side can get the job done tonight, the pressure will be back onto turbulent Japan.


Should Japan lose all their points, under a high-pressure environment on home soil, Moriyasu may be sacked. The team will look to finish off their campaign with minimal fuss.


Australia will sit second should they gain three points against both Vietnam and Oman, and at best, Japan draw in the Saudi clash.


If the Green Falcons win the match and Moriyasu is relieved of his duties, Japan won't just be sitting third; they will be battered and bruised in third.

Former Sanfrecce Hiroshima boss Moriyasu's Japan reign has been controversial. (Getty Images)


The other opportunity to close in that awaits the Roos is in Muscat, where a potentially Jordan-esque banana skin in a hostile middle eastern environment awaits. It would be safe to say that the team won't have it easy.


However, COVID restrictions mean the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat will not be at capacity, ultimately eliminating that fierce element of hostility.


Should Japan suffer their nightmare of losing to Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos will be determined they can no longer let things slip away.


It will be a winnable scenario.


With the previously mentioned results played out, Japan will be heading to Stadium Australia on matchday nine.


A venue that consistently delivers a memorable Socceroos finale, and this one would be the biggest of the lot.


At their weakest, the old rival Japan, knowing Australia hasn't beaten them since 2009, in a sudden-death qualification match at arguably the closest thing to the Socceroos football home.


It leaves you frothing at the mouth.


Australia would be ready to make history in a way they have never done before.


A hero will be ready to step up on the 100th anniversary of the Socceroos existence, like Jimmy MacKay, John Aloisi, Josh Kennedy, and Mile Jedinak have done before them.

Australia may require a repeat of Jedinak's heroic effort against Honduras in 2017 to qualify. (Getty Images)


To relay back to the current generation and the scenario in front of them, the popular opinion of Australia's doomed state of affairs is probably a fair assessment.


However, looking ahead to these forthcoming games, one should assess the other results in Group B so far for some perspective.


The 1-1 draw against China was let down by a penalty being conceded, but Australia did enough to win the match.


I maintain that had the result stayed at 1-0, Australia would be precisely where they need to be at this moment in time. The conversation is fundamentally turned on its head.


There have been examples of fortunes going the other way, though.


Rhyan Grant's handball against Vietnam in Hanoi should have been penalised with an equaliser from the spot, leaving the Socceroos frantically chasing a winner.


The plan outlined above requires a heavy reliance on other results, and I'm not blind to that. But I'm also looking across the spectrum at the campaign that has played out.


Australia has only lost one match, whilst Japan is probably weaker and unsure of what lies ahead.


Nothing is inevitable, and Australia has no right to be confident, given the shambolic nature of its football scene at times.


The one thing its fans should do is reverse their doomsday mentality.


Keep the faith and trust the system, but you don't have to love Arnold; he has undoubtedly warranted his criticisms.


But when looking at this entire picture painted, Australia isn't a team worthy of constant criticism.


This generation is not ready to see the game flurry away.


They don't deserve that, and they have not been so poor as to be swept aside by the constantly sodden attitudes Socceroos fans have so wildly spread in the past few months.


This team have, on the whole, played well enough to be considered a winning team.


Should the time come, Australians must not pack it in and give up on these players and their mission.


They are national heroes, and they are here to continue the strength of the movement of the world game in this country.


Please remember that before you so harshly critique these Socceroos in their quest for a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance.


The next opponent the Socceroos will face in World Cup qualifying is Vietnam, who you can read more about by clicking here.