Saudi Arabia clinches 2018 World Cup spot

Ruben Ruiz
September 7, 2017

An emotional Australia coach Ange Postecoglou paid tribute to his team and said their 10-game World Cup qualifying campaign had been "magnificent" - even though the mood in the stadium after their narrow 2-1 win over Thailand was more one of exasperation than triumph.

Australia will play Syria over two legs in October, with the Qasioun Eagles to "host" their match in neutral territory because of the ongoing conflict in their nation.

The top two teams in each group go directly to the World Cup, and the third-place teams go into a playoff for a shot at an intercontinental qualifier.

"I've survived much worse than this, and if anything it motivates me to keep going because I want to make sure Australian football gets on the right path", Postecoglu said. The victor would go on to the Fifa World Cup finals. I took the role to do it a certain way and I'll see it through.

Postecoglou defended his players' effort in the vital qualifier, saying they could not have done any more to try to get the result they needed.

"I wish Syria and Australia the very best of luck in the play-off match".

"The style and the approach is what works for us and what will work for us", he said.

A parochial capacity crowd at AAMI Park will be hoping to see the Socceroos score a convincing victory over the Thais with whom they unexpectedly drew late past year.

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Japan won the group with 20 points, one clear of the Saudis and the Australians, who only had one loss in the qualifying round - away to Japan last week.

Aaron Mooy and veteran talisman Tim Cahill both hit the post, and Tom Rogic's long-range volley was saved by goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool.

"At the moment, he's hanging by a thread in my opinion", Bosnich said of Postecoglou.

"People can have their judgements on me, but I won't be pushed into the shadows of Australian football history like others by bowing to certain parts".

Postecoglou said that it had been a hard qualifying group, and noted that Australia had lost just one game, compared to two each for rivals Japan and Saudi Arabia. "It was a little bit disappointing [about] their goal on the counter-attack, but overall we got ourselves in good scoring positions", Australia skipper Mark Milligan said.

"Last night, as frustrating as it was, I love watching that team play, my team play, our team play".

"We played the kind of football I wanted them to play. You get on with life", Postecoglou told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Al Soma's heart-stopping goal had one Syrian team official in tears before the players hugged and celebrated at the final whistle.

Other reports by GizPress

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