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FIFA World Cup qualifying: UAE and Australia face off on June 7 for inter-confederation playoff spot

June 7, 2022 By Ali M.
Al-Abyad take on the Socceroos in the fourth round of Asia's FIFA World Cup qualifying round, with a ticket to the inter-confederation playoff being at stake.

Preview

While all four automatic qualification berths from Asia for the upcoming FIFA World Cup have been snatched up, the AFC's qualifying round is not yet over as there is one crucial fixture yet to be played. That game is Tuesday's interesting showdown between the UAE and Australia, with these two continental heavyweights set to face off at the Al Rayyan Stadium in Doha.

This fourth round fixture is crucial as it will determine Asia's representative for the inter-confederation playoff later this month, with the winner set to face Peru in a one-off match for a spot at Qatar 2022. The United Arab Emirates, who only qualified for FIFA's prestigious tournament once before way back in 1990, will be hoping to snatch that playoff spot.

Unfortunately, the Gulf nation endured a rocky run in the qualifying rounds, meaning fans will be unsure of their odds of beating Australia. In the second qualifying round, Al-Abyad lost twice in their opening four games and appeared headed for an unexpected early exit. Fortunately for them, they followed that up with six wins out of their final six matches and thus progressed to the third round.

Unfortunately, things got trickier here as the UAE were paired against Iran, South Korea, and Iraq in this stage. They only racked up three points out of a possible 15 in their first five games and finished this round with only three victories and 12 points out of 10 games.

As a result, the Middle East side were not able to secure a top two finish and a subsequent automatic ticket to Qatar 2022, resulting in the sacking of then head coach Bert van Marwijk and the appointment of Rodolfo Arruabarrena. Fortunately, Al-Abyad saw off competition from Lebanon and Iraq to finish third in the group and thus acquire progression to the fourth round.

There are positives the UAE can draw from. First of all, there was the impressive 1-0 victory over South Korea on the final day that helped secure their playoff spot. Additionally, Ali Makbout, finished the campaign as the qualifying round's top scorer, netting an impressive 14 goals.

Australia faced similar issues as their midweek opponents in the third round, but unlike Al-Abyad, the Socceroos enjoyed a brilliant second round campaign, completing this stage with a perfect record while only conceding two goals.

However, it is in the third round where Asia's automatic qualification spots are decided and here is where Graham Arnold's side fell short. They were paired against the likes of Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Oman; and just like the UAE, Australia failed to grab a top two finish, hence why they are fighting for a playoff spot.

The 2015 AFC Asian Cup winners started the third round in spectacular fashion, winning their opening three fixtures. However, the continental powerhouse then failed to win any of the following three games. While this was a huge blow, the sucker punch came in the form of back-to-back disappointments against Oman and Japan, drawing 2-2 with the earlier before losing 2-0 at home to the latter.

After that came a 1-0 defeat away to Saudi Arabia, who topped this group, before finishing off the campaign on a positive note by beating Jordan 2-1. Australia should enter Tuesday's clash with confidence, but in order to beat the Emiratis, the Socceroos will need to be on their A game or they will miss out on the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 2002.

Team news

UAE: Ali Mabkhout, Al-Abyad's all-time top scorer, is expected to lead the line as the Emiratis will need their goalscoring boots if they are to beat Australia. The UAE don't have many concerns heading into this tie but it will be interesting to see how Arruabarrena utilizes the experienced Walid Abbas and Omar Abdulrahman.

Australia: Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy and Kenny Dougall are all on the sidelines, meaning Bailey Wright could find himself in the lineup once again at the heart of the Socceroos' defense. In attack, it's a toss between Jamie MacLaren and Nicholas D'Agostino as to who will start up front.

Broadcast listings

 

Match details, result and original broadcast info

United Arab Emirates 1 - 2 Australia

June 7, 2022 2:00pmAhmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan (Al-Rayyan))

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

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