Australia's path to the World Cup has become a whole lot more difficult after the 2-0 loss to Japan in Saitama on Thursday.
The Socceroos face a must-win match against Thailand in Melbourne on Tuesday and then hope the Blue Samurai don't lose to Saudi Arabia later that evening.
Japan have qualified for Russia and currently lead group B on 20 points (+11 goal difference), with Saudi Arabia (+6) and Australia (+4) on 16 points.
The tiebreakers for teams finishing level on points are: goal difference, goals scored, head-to-head result, head-to-head goal difference, head-to-head goals scored, awa y goals, discipline record and drawing lots
The top two in the group automatically qualify for Russia, while third position must play a two-leg playoff against the No.3 in group A (currently Syria), before taking on the fourth-placed team in CONCACAF (currently Honduras) over two home-and-away matches to qualify.
The crucial fixtures are:
- Sep 5: Thailand v Australia
- Sep 6: Saudi Arabia v Japan
This is what the situation looks like for the Socceroos:
SOCCEROOS DEFEAT THAILAND - 19 POINTS
For Australia to qualify automatically:
- They need Japan to defeat Saudi Arabia or the match be a draw
A tiebreaker will decide if Australia qualify automatically :
- Saudi Arabia defeat Japan (Australia and Saudi to finish on same points).
SOCCEROOS DRAW WITH THAILAND - 17 POINTS
For Australia to qualify automatically they will need:
- Japan to defeat Saudi Arabia
A tiebreaker will decide if Australia qualify automatically if:
- Saudi Arabia draw against Japan (Australia and Saudi to finish on same points).
SOCCEROOS LOSE TO THAILAND - 16 POINTS
The only way Australia can qualify automatically under this scenario is if they win the tiebreaker after Saudi Arabia lose against Japan.
NOTE: UAE can mathematically still reach the playoff qualifying position but need to win against Iraq, plus make up a minimum six goals in goal difference on the teams above.