Australia face a battle in their bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup without having to go through the playoffs.

The Socceroos are currently third in Group B in the AFC third round of qualifying, with 16 points from their eight matches thus far.

Although Ange Postecoglou’s men have avoided defeat in their campaign, their propensity to draw matches has left them outside of the automatic qualification berths behind Japan and Saudi Arabia.

They have two matches remaining to ensure that they secure one of the top two spots, although one of their contests is against group leaders Japan away from home.

The Socceroos will be determined to gain at least a point from the fixture to alleviate pressure on their final game against Thailand in September, being backed at 2/1 in the latest football betting odds to beat Japan in Saitama at the end of August.

Australia made the decision to switch from the Oceania qualifying division to the Asian sector due to their success in the 2015 Asian Cup.

In only their third competition Postecoglou’s men triumphed over South Korea in the final after extra time. Massimo Luongo had put them on the path to victory only for Son Heung-min to snatch a late equaliser to send the contest into an additional 30 minutes.

Socceroos

Source: Andie Sawmill via Twitter

James Triosi rose to the occasion to fire his side in front once more and it was enough to allow the Aussies to claim the victory.

As a result, the Socceroos entered their qualifying campaign for the World Cup in Russia with momentum and defeated Iraq and the United Arab Emirates in their opening two matches.

However, against Saudi Arabia problems to mount as they could only muster a 2-2 draw, while their home match against Japan ended in similar frustration, needing a Mile Jedinak penalty to salvage a point in the second half.

Jedinak’s composure was needed from the spot to notch a point against Thailand in their worst performance of qualifying, playing out a 2-2 draw in Bangkok. The run of draws extended to four matches as they failed to see off Iraq, leaving Postecoglou’s side in trouble.

Australia ended their run with a victory over the United Arab Emirates, while they put in their best performance of qualifying as a brace from Tomi Juric and Tomas Rogic secured a 3-2 win against Saudi Arabia to drag the Socceroos level on points with their rivals.

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The Aussies have momentum to take into their clash against Japan and have quality in their squad to pose the Samurai Blue an abundance of problems. Aaron Mooy starred for Huddersfield during their promotion campaign and has made a solid start to life in the Premier League.

Tim Cahill remains on the scene even at the age of 37 and his experience will be vital in the contest. He has played on the biggest stage plenty of times before and will not be fazed by the challenge ahead, ensuring that his side return to the World Cup for the third tournament on the bounce.

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