Australia have gone about qualifying for next summer’s World Cup in Russia the hard way, and it’s about to be make or break time for Ange Postecoglou’s men.

After coming third in their qualifying group behind Japan and Saudi Arabia, the Socceroos were forced to play a crunch tie against Syria. They narrowly won that in the second leg, and now face Honduras, with the winner of that match earning a place in the ultimate tournament.

Embed from Getty Images

Australian supporters are unlikely to be filled with much confidence going into the playoff game with the Central American side. Their team have been lacking bottle and failed to get through a group that, aside from Japan, was filled with fairly average opposition. And the Socceroos have just been dealt another major blow in the build-up to the crucial game.

Tim Cahill, Australia’s all-time top goal scorer with 50 goals for his country in just over 100 appearances, could be sidelined through injury. The prolific poacher limped off the pitch after 22 minutes of the recent A League tie between Sydney FC and Melbourne City, which the Sky Blues won 1-0. With a “blown up ankle”, he is now a major doubt for both legs against Honduras. This would be a significant blow for Postecoglou, as it was thanks to the 37-year-old’s two goals in the previous round that Australia managed to progress to this stage.

If they make it past Honduras, Australia are long-shots to get to the latter stages of the finals in Russia. They are $501 in the bet365 football betting to actually win the tournament, but missing out on a place on the world stage would be desperately disappointing for fans. The Socceroos have made it to the last three tournaments, and in 2006 even managed to advance past the group stage into the Round of 16.

The Socceroos are coming up against a side who have qualified for the last two World Cups, but prior to that had only taken part in one tournament in 1982. Australia supporters will believe that they are more deserving of a place, but going into the away leg at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula they are the underdogs, with bookies favouring Jorge Luis Pinto’s side for the win on home soil. One of the main factors against the Socceroos is the fact that they may have to play the tie in extreme heat after Honduras asked for the kick-off to be brought forward to avoid thunderstorms.

Embed from Getty Images

Like Australia, Honduras have endured a tumultuous qualifying campaign. They only managed to win two of their six games in Round 4, but managed to progress thanks to Canada and El Salvador failing to capitalise. With both sides lacking form and knowing how much is riding on these two fixtures, both ties could be closely fought, cagey affairs.

If Australia want to get to the finals for the fourth consecutive time, they need to focus on matters on the pitch and go for the jugular against Honduras. For Postecoglou, it’s do or die. If Australia fail, the Greek-born manager will almost certainly be out of a job. 

Source: Australian Football via Facebook 

SHARE