An outstanding performance by the Socceroos from Down Under produced a perfect second round in
the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ AFC Asian Qualifiers, as they took an impressive eight wins from eight games. However, that was not the only noteworthy statistical achievement to emerge from their campaign so far.
There were several standout performances that were well worth the wait, as Australia finally returned to action in June 2021.
June’s Asian Qualifiers saw Australia wrap up first place in Group B with 24 points after overpowering Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal and Jordan.
Although, that said, to their credit, Japan did equal the Socceroos points total in round two of qualification, finishing top in Group F.
HIGHLIGHT MATCHES: Qatar 2022™ AFC Asian Qualifiers Round Two
Australia 3-0 Kuwait
This was the side’s first game since their 1-0 victory over Jordan back in November 2019 as Australia completed a comprehensive 3-0 win over Al-Azraq. The result gave the Socceroos five consecutive wins for the first time since October 2011 and their first four wins on the bounce away from home since 2002.
From Kuwait’s perspective the outcome meant that they have lost all of their last four matches against Australia, with a goal difference of minus 13.
Mathew Leckie opened the Socceroos account after 55 seconds, with what was only the third fastest goal overall in the Qatar 2022™ AFC Asian Qualifiers thus far. Remarkably, Leckie’s header was eclipsed by both Iraq’s Mohanad Ali who hit the back of the net after just 19 seconds and Syafig Ahmad of Malaysia who scored on 33 seconds.
Australia 5-1 Chinese Taipei
The team’s second match in June saw Australia overwhelm their opponents; statistically speaking this specific win over Chinese Taipei became the longest Socceroos run without defeat against any country in internationals.
In addition, the game marked the Socceroos’ highest possession ratio in any of the side’s matches played during
the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Asian Qualifiers at 78.2%.
Yet more statistics, striker/winger Mitchell Duke took a total of 11 direct shots in the match (seven shots along with four created chances), yielding the highest tally achieved by any Australian player in a single game during the qualification campaign.
In their third match the Socceroos secured a 3-0 victory over Nepal courtesy of goals from captain Leckie, defender Fran Karacic and winger Martin Boyle.
Australia had to defended one solitary shot over the whole match, which according to the now hyperactive statisticians, meant the Green and Gold were subject to the lowest number of direct attacking moves in a single game in the qualifiers.
Undoubtedly on a roll now in terms of shots taken, while only three ended up in the net, the Socceroos managed 34 shots on goal. The second-highest total of the campaign and coincidentally topped by a total of 36 in 2019’s reverse fixture against Nepal.
Attacking midfielder Ajdin Hrustic, with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, was directly involved in 12 shots in the match (8 shots, 4 chances created), the most scoring opportunities taken by any Australian player in a single game during the qualifiers.
Meanwhile, another Bundesliga player, Jackson Irvine from FC Pauli also set a record in the same match with his 13th scoring chance of the qualifiers, the maximum number accrued by any Australian player across the competition.
Further milestones too for the Socceroos captain, Leckie who slotted home his fourth goal in four appearances as well as notching up his second consecutive headed goal of the campaign.
Australia 1-0 Jordan
The Socceroos final match in Group B proved to be a hard-fought, attritional affair resulting in a 1-0 defeat of Jordan, although this turned into the first back-to-back win over Jordan in their competitive history.
An eighth consecutive victory for Australia; the only other occasion when this was exceeded was a run of 14 successive wins between October 1996 to October 1997.
Also a landmark match for defender Trent Sainsbury, who plies his trade in Belgium with first division KV Kotrijk. Sainsbury simultaneously made his 50th international appearance and claimed his 14th clearance of
the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ AFC Asian Qualifiers, the latter representing the top defensive record of any Socceroos’ player in this campaign.
Australia as a team will be looking to ramp up the stats still further and break yet more records when they return to
the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualifying in the third round.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ AFC Asian third round qualifying
The draw for the Qatar 2022™ AFC Third Round qualifying took place on July 1st and the twelve teams that progressed from the second round (the seven group winners excluding Qatar and the five best group runners-up) were then divided into two groups of six teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches.
Group winners from the second round: Group A) Syria B) Australia C) Iran D) Saudi Arabia E) Qatar: see note below F) Japan G) United Arab Emirates H) South Korea
Five best runners up from: Group A) China PR, C) Iraq, E) Oman, G) Vietnam and H) Lebanon
See the teams in their respective third round groups below.
The top two teams of each group will qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and the two third-placed teams will advance to the fourth round.
Note: While Qatar won Group E in the second round advancing them into the 2023 AFC Asian Cup finals, but as hosts were not required to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2022™.
A1 Iran, A2 South Korea, A3 United Arab Emirates, A4 Iraq, A5 Syria and A6 Lebanon
B1 Japan, B2 Australia, B3 Saudi Arabia, B4 China PR, B5 Oman and B6 Vietnam
The final round of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Asian qualifiers will begin in September 2021 and be finished by March 2022.
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