Prospects Of The Australian National Team: What Are The Chances Of Qualifying For The 2026 World Cup?

Prospects Of The Australian National Team: What Are The Chances Of Qualifying For The 2026 World Cup?

At one time, the Australian national team qualified for the World Cup as a team from Oceania. The Socceroos had no competitors there – the only serious rival, New Zealand, almost always turned out to be weaker. The predictability of the development of events did not contribute to the development of football on the Green Continent, and the ease of victories led to the fact that football players relaxed. After entering the World Cup, the boys faced an unpleasant reality: at real competitions, they were mercilessly beaten by even those rivals who did not have great success.

In order to change this situation, the federation decided to move to the AFC – this should significantly increase the degree of qualifying competitions. At the same time, Australia is also considered one of the strongest teams in Asia, but you should not relax here at all. If you want to support Sokkeruz with a sports bet, go to betting companies in Uganda.

First round

Asian national teams have an additional chance to qualify for the 2026 World Cup thanks to the expansion of its final part to 48 participants. Thanks to this, Asia receives an unprecedented number of tickets – eight straight and one more to the intercontinental playoffs. Looking ahead, this makes Australia’s chances of a trip to the World Cup virtually guaranteed.

The qualifying tournament is divided into several rounds. The first one has already been played – in October 2023. It included Asian teams ranked 27th to 46th on the continent – that is, the third Australia was to enter the fray later. These 20 national teams were divided into pairs to determine the strongest in two-match confrontations. The losers were eliminated from the selection cycle, and the winners made it further. This preliminary stage for the Australians is important only because it determined for them one of the subsequent opponents.

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The second round as of now and in the future

All Asian national teams, including the strongest ones, are already taking part in the second qualifying stage – except for those that were eliminated earlier. 36 teams are divided into 9 quartets, where each of the opponents must be played at home and away. First and second place allow you to continue the fight for tickets to the World Cup in the third round, and those who do not manage to make it further will still fight for a place in the 2027 Asian Cup.

The mini-tournament, which runs from November 2023 to June 2024, pits Australia against Lebanon, Palestine and Bangladesh (the latter made it through the first round by knocking out the Maldives). The Socceroos immediately demonstrated that this level of opposition is perhaps better than it was in Oceania, but not by much. As of now, the Australians have played two matches:

  • crushed Bangladesh 7-0 at home;
  • won a strategically important (formally away) victory over Palestine on a neutral field – 0:1.

Two-thirds of the tournament is still ahead, but previous achievements have allowed the Socceroos to secure first place with an 8-0 goal difference. Instead, all the matches between the rivals so far have only ended in a draw, so the nearest pursuer – Lebanon – has only 2 points, while Palestine and Bangladesh – 1 each in total.

The Aussies now have a doubleheader against Lebanon in March and return matches against the other two opponents in June. The Lebanese do not look like an opponent to be wary of – they made it to the winter Asian Cup, but with a single point they took the last place in a rather modest quartet with Qatar, Tajikistan and China (it was with the Celestial Empire that they drew). Two victories over the national team from the Middle East is not an impossible task at all, and they guarantee passage further. In fact, even 4 scored points in two meetings will be quite enough.

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Even with sensationally weak results in the form of subsequent defeats, the Australians simply have to take three more points in Bangladesh, and 9 points against the background of numerous draws with competitors is already a very solid application for the third round, considering that the second place in the quartet is also passing

What’s next?

While there are still no guarantees about going to the third round, we can state that Australia’s chances of getting there are huge, but not getting there – on the contrary, it will be an unheard of sensation. However, the next stage of qualification will be significantly more difficult.

The mini-tournament, which will last from September 2024 to June 2025, will feature 18 of the strongest Asian national teams – that is, there will be even fewer participants than in the final part of the Asian Cup. They will be divided into three groups of six teams – each opponent must be played at home and away in ten rounds. Victory or second place in the sextet is a guaranteed trip to the World Cup, third or fourth – access to the fourth round of qualification for further competition.

Thus, six direct tickets out of eight will be drawn already in the third round of qualification, and if it is not possible to get one of them, in two more (and one – to the intercontinental playoffs) it will be possible to additionally compete in the fourth or even fifth stages of selection planned for the end of autumn 2025. Australia, of course, will try not to delay the entry into the final part of the World Cup and do without additional qualifying matches.

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It is too early to assess Australia’s chances of success in the third qualifying round, because not only has there not been a draw, but none of its participants has been decided. Instead, based on the current rating of the Asian national teams, it is possible to theoretically model how the Socceroos group could look at the next stage, if the strongest option were to fall out of each basket:

  • Japan;
  • Australia;
  • Iraq;
  • Jordan;
  • China;
  • Tajikistan.

Could Australia take one of the top two spots in such a hypothetical group? Success is possible, but not guaranteed. However, it will be a sensation if the Socceroos do not secure even the third or fourth position with the continuation of the fight – which means that the chances of going to the World Cup remain very high. Most likely, the Australians will cope with the task one way or another – the only question is how quickly.

About Aakash Ghosh 510 Articles
Akash Ghosh is a cricket enthusiast and a writer who covers the latest news and match previews for Panasiabiz. He has been following the game since he was a kid and enjoys analyzing the performances of players and teams. He also likes to share his opinions and predictions with fellow cricket fans through his articles and social media posts. Akash has a degree in journalism and a passion for writing engaging and informative content. Akash can be reached at [email protected]