|WCQ: Syria v Australia
Thursday 11:30pm (AEDT)
at Hang Jebat Stadium, Malaysia
|Best: Under 2.5 goals ($1.60) 💰
Other: Draw ($3.50) 💰
Value: HT/FT – Australia/Draw ($15.00) 💰
Correct Score: Draw 1-1 ($7.00) 💰
The Socceroos failure turo gain automatic qualification to Russia 2018 means a dreaded path through the playoffs. The winner of this tie will face the 4th place CONCACAF team – currently the USA but most likely to be Panama. It is a process that the Socceroos know all about but one they have avoided since joining the Asian Confederation. Memories of Iran and Uruguay will host fans more than the playing group but we will be hoping that we will not have to re-live any of them.
The Wolf has had plenty to say about Ange’s tactics but would like to fill his followers with some positive thoughts. He wants to start with some facts surrounding the two sides before giving us his analysis.
– The Socceroos lost just 1 of their 10 group games (group winners Japan lost twice, Saudi Arabia three times) but finished 3rd on goal difference.
– There was a significant difference between the Socceroos home and away results. They had 4 wins and a draw at home but managed just 1 win in their 5 away fixtures.
– Syria’s home games are played in Malaysia: Syria have not played a home match in their own country since 2010 and despite an attempt to shift this match to Qatar or the UAE the Syrian FA were ordered to play in Malaysia.
– Syria managed a total of only 9 goals in their 10 qualifying matches – 3 of which have come in injury time!
– Syria have never qualified for the World Cup.
– The two sides have never faced off in a competitive match.
On paper this should be a complete mismatch and the neutral venue for the Syria home game is another huge leg up for the Socceroos. They will arguably have more support in Malaysia than Syria and the Syrians have failed to score in 4 of their last 6 away qualification matches. One man however is trying to keep them in the contest – Ange Postecoglou…
Somehow the Socceroos coach has left Alex Gersbach out of the squad and there is no guessing what he will do with his starting selections. In our final two qualifiers (Japan and Thailand) Ange through the continuity card out of the window. He made 7 changes to his starting XI with Ryan, Sainsbury, Milligan and Leckie the only to survive. One could argue he effective made just two changes with Ryan almost an automatic pick between the sticks while Milligan played as a defender against Japan before being shifted into midfield for the Thailand clash.
It doesn’t stop there either. The recall of Spiranovic lasted just two games and just the one appearance with Matt Jurman and Rukavytsya the latest to join what is a never ending list of players to be called up under Postecoglou’s reign. Jurman has never played for the Socceroos while Rukavystsya’s 4 year absence from international football has been given a lifeline.
In what is the biggest week of football for the Socceroos since the 16th of November 2005 (the famous penalty shootout against Uruguay), how can the manager still have so much indecision when it comes to selections. There has been a real lack of continuity under Postecoglou and The Wolf cannot look past it. The Socceroos have managed to score more than two goals in just 1 of their last 17 matches. In addition they have conceded multiple goals in 3 of their last 4 away qualification matches and have managed just the 1 clean sheet in their last 12 outings. Clearly the back three system is not working but a stubborn Postecoglou will not be changing it – even it it means failing to qualify for the World Cup.
The Wolf is predicting a very defensive style from the Socceroos in the away leg and is giving the Syrians the respect they deserve. The match will be perfectly poised for the return clash on Tuesday. The Socceroos to grab the all important away goal in a 1-1 draw.
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