Can The Socceroos Book Their Place at Qatar? – World Cup 2022 Playoff Guide

The Socceroos will need to beat the UAE and then Peru to book a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Australia could only finish third in their qualifying group after embarking on a poor run of results. They must now navigate a perilous path towards qualification, starting with a third-place playoff showdown with a confident UAE team.

If the Socceroos can get the better of Al-Abyad, they will progress to an inter-confederation clash with Peru. This article explores their chances of success and highlights the key players that coach Graham Arnold will rely upon.


The Story of The Socceroos’ World Cup Qualifying Group

Australia began their World Cup qualifying campaign in the second round, where they landed in a group with Kuwait, Jordan, Nepal and Chinese Taipei. The Socceroos finished top of the table with a 100% record.

They fired in 28 goals and conceded eight. Standout results included a 5-0 victory over Nepal and a 7-1 away win against Chinese Taipei.

Australia eased through to the third round, and they were drawn in Group B, along with Saudi Arabia, Japan, Oman, China and Vietnam. They knew that only the top two teams would secure automatic qualification for the World Cup, while the team that finished third would go into the playoffs.

The Socceroos made an auspicious start, surging to the top of the standings after securing consecutive wins against China, Vietnam and Oman. The 3-0 win against China was particularly impressive, as Arnold’s men dominated possession and did not allow their opponents a single shot on target.

However, their form then fell off a cliff. Australia suffered a brutal 2-1 defeat to Japan after left-back Aziz Behich scored an own-goal with just four minutes left on the clock. That may have dented their confidence, as they followed it up with a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia and a 1-1 draw with China, which saw them slide down the table.

Australia got their qualification campaign back on track with a 4-0 win against Vietnam, but they then slumped to a damaging 2-2 draw with Oman, leaving their chances of automatic qualification balanced on a knife-edge.

A 2-0 defeat to Japan and a 1-0 loss to Saudi Arabia in their final two games sealed Australia’s fate. They ended up finishing eight points behind the Saudis and seven behind Japan. Fortunately, they were one point clear of Oman, so they scraped through to the playoffs.


World Cup Qualifying Third Round Group B Standings

Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals Conceded GD Points
Saudi Arabia 10 7 2 1 12 6 +6 23
Japan 10 7 1 2 12 4 +8 22
Australia 10 4 3 3 15 9 +6 15
Oman 10 4 2 4 11 10 +1 14
China 10 1 3 6 8 19 -10 6
Vietnam 10 1 1 8 8 19 -11 4


AFC World Cup Qualifying Third Place Playoff Format

The third round of World Cup qualifying in Asia is divided into two groups. The teams that finish third in each group meet one another in a playoff.

Whoever wins advances to an inter-confederation playoff, while the losing team is forced to watch the World Cup at home on TV. This year’s inter-confederation playoff will pit either Australia or the UAE against Peru, who finished fifth in a very talented South American World Cup qualifying group.

The Socceroos will have to channel the spirit of 2017, when they overcame Syria and then Honduras to qualify for the World Cup, or take inspiration from their famous win against Uruguay in 2005.

Incidentally, Australia previously competed in the Oceania World Cup qualifying competition. The winner of that event goes into an inter-confederation playoff too. This year, New Zealand won it to tee up a winner-takes-all game against Costa Rica, so Australia may wish they still went down that route.


Socceroos Opponents: United Arab Emirates Form

Former Socceroos manager Bert van Marwijk led the UAE into their World Cup qualifying campaign. The Dutchman, who took Australia to the last World Cup, was enjoying his second stint as head coach of Al-Abyad, and he began with a flourish.

The UAE won six out of eight games in the second round to advance to Group A in the third round. That left them to contend with Iran, South Korea, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. They made a disastrous start to proceedings, with zero wins, three draws and two defeats from their first five games.

Al-Abyad bounced back with a 1-0 away win against Lebanon, before beating Syria 2-0 on January 27. However, a 1-0 defeat to Iran left their World Cup dreams in tatters, so van Marwijk was sacked for a second time. His replacement, Rodolfo Arruabarrena, had just two games in which to rescue the situation.

They lost 1-0 again to Iran, and they seemed certain to crash out ahead of a final clash with a rampant South Korea side. However, they pulled off a shock 1-0 win. The UAE were 13 points behind Iran and 11 short of South Korea, but they sneaked ahead of Iraq to clinch third. They managed just seven goals in 10 matches, but defensive solidity ultimately carried them through.


AFC World Cup Qualifying Third Place Playoff Match Time & Date

The third-place playoff with the UAE could be a nail-biting affair, as Al-Abyad keep things very tight at the back. These are the details for the big game:

Game TV Channel Venue Date Time
Australia vs. UAE Channel 10 Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium June 7 TBD


World Cup Inter Confederation Playoff Final Details

If Australia manage to beat the UAE, they will return to the same stadium to face Peru six days later. The Peruvians performed well in the CONMEBOL qualifying group, so it would be a tough match for the Socceroos.

La Blanquirroja took 10 points from their final five matches to secure a fifth-place finish, ahead of a star-studded Colombia team. They had seven wins, three draws and eight defeats overall, scoring 19 goals and conceding 22 times.

There is a lot of quality in their squad, including midfielder Renato Tapia, who plays for Celta Vigo in La Liga. Cruz Azul’s Luis Abram keeps things tight in defence, and Turin-born striker Gianluca Lapadula is dangerous up front.

Australia’s last meeting with Peru came at the 2018 World Cup, and it resulted in a 2-0 defeat for the Socceroos. The Peruvians are 22nd in the FIFA world rankings, 20 places ahead of Australia.


The Key Players That Could Help Socceroos Qualify

We make Australia the 501.00 underdogs to win the World Cup. First, they will need to produce a Herculean effort to get past UAE and Peru. These are the players that must shine if the Socceroos are to book a place in the World Cup:

  • Mathew Ryan | The Real Sociedad goalkeeper is Australia’s captain and most capped player. Arnold will rely on him to provide a safe pair of hands in the playoffs.
  • Jamie Maclaren | The Melbourne City striker fired in seven goals during qualifying, and the Socceroos will need him to be at his lethal best.
  • Tom Rogic | The Celtic playmaker has the ability to win games with a moment of magic, such as a long-range strike and a perfectly weighted through-ball.
  • Harry Souttar | The Stoke centre-back can serve as Australia’s rock at the back in these vital games.
  • Mathew Leckie | If the Socceroos need a goal, they could call upon Leckie, who has often delivered for his country at crucial moments.



Can Australia still qualify for the 2022 World Cup?

Australia will need to beat the United Arab Emirates in a crucial playoff clash to keep their World Cup qualification dreams alive. That would tee up an intercontinental showdown with Peru, and victory in that game would earn the Socceroos a place at the World Cup.

When do the Socceroos play UAE in the World Cup third place playoffs?

The Socceroos will take on the UAE in Qatar on June 7. Kick-off time has not yet been revealed. The game will take place at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, and you can bet on the action by visiting


If Australia beat UAE will they qualify for Qatar?

No – Australia must first beat UAE and then go on to beat Peru in an intercontinental playoff if they are to earn a place at the World Cup in Qatar. If they lose to UAE, they are out of contention. Victory would keep them in the hunt for a place, but they would need to get the better of a very dangerous Peru team.


When is the World Cup 2022 inter-confederation playoff?

The World Cup 2022 inter-confederation playoff between either Australia or UAE and Peru will take place on June 13. First, the Socceroos will lock horns with the UAE to decide who will meet Peru. The winner will face Ricardo Gareca’s men at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar to determine which team will qualify for the World Cup.