And after the teams fought out a 1-1 draw in last week’s first leg in Malaysia, there is still everything to play for at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night.
LIVE COVERAGE: Complete coverage of Australia v Syria at ANZ Stadium
So what results will get us through to next month’s intercontinental playoff against the fourth-placed nation from CONCACAF?
And — touch wood — if we get through Tuesday night, who might we play?
Read on to find out.
WHAT: Socceroos v Syria
WHERE: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
WHEN: Tuesday October 10, 2017
TIME: 8pm AEDT, 7pm (Queensland)
Australia celebrates after Robbie Kruse scores against Syria on Thursday night. Picture: APSource:AP
WIN AND WE MOVE ON
If the Socceroos defeat Syria on Tuesday night — by any margin — they will advance to the next stage.
It sounds simple, and our boys do have a great record on home soil, but Syria will not be rolling over without a fight.
A DRAW COULD DO
If a 0-0 stalemate plays out then Australia will still advance courtesy of the away goals rule after last week’s 1-1 draw.
In the case of a tie over the two legs, away goals count double.
Debutant Matthew Jurman in action on Thursday. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
IT COULD GO TO EXTRA TIME
If the teams duke out another 1-1 draw in the allotted 90 minutes then extra time will be required — memories of Uruguay 2005, anyone?
If the extra half-hour isn’t enough then a dreaded penalty shootout will decide our fate.
HOW WE MISS
Not that we want to think about it, but there are plenty of scenarios whereby Australia’s 2018 World Cup campaign ends in Sydney.
A Syrian win, by any margin, would see the Socceroos eliminated.
A draw with any scoreline not mentioned above — e.g. 2-2, 3-3, 4-4 — would see Syria go through on the away goals rule.
Syrian fans watch a live broadcast of the first leg in Damascus’ Omayyad Square. Picture: AFPSource:AFP
NEWSCORP FOOTBALL REVOLUTION
HOW THINGS SIT IN NORTH AMERICA
There is just one matchday left to play in CONCACAF, but there are still three nations who could yet feature in that playoff spot — Panama, Honduras and USA.
Here’s how things stand ahead of Wednesday morning’s final games.
Team / P / W / D / L / GD / Pts
MEXICO 9 6 3 0 +10 21
COSTA RICA 9 4 4 1 +7 16
USA 9 3 3 3 +5 12
PANAMA 9 2 4 3 -2 10
HONDURAS 9 2 4 3 -7 10
T & T 9 1 0 8 -13 3
WEDNESDAY, 11am (AEDT)
Honduras v Mexico, San Pedro Sula
Panama v Costa Rica, Panama City
Trinidad and Tobago v USA, Couva
WHAT IT MEANS
USA was in a precarious position going into the weekend’s games, but a 4-0 win over Panama has given it some breathing space.
A draw against lowly Trinidad and Tobago should be enough to get it through to Russia, but a win guarantees their spot.
United States’ Bobby Wood celebrates his goal against Panama last week. Picture: APSource:AP
Realistically it’s going to come down to a battle between Panama and Honduas for that playoff berth against Australia or Syria, with both Central American nations locked on 10 points.
Both teams are at home and both are playing tricky opponents, however they are tricky opponents who have already qualified.
Panama, you would have to say, is the most likely to finish fourth.
It is currently five goals ahead of Honduas on goal difference. And although it is always a hotly contested derby against neighbouring Costa Rica, Mexico is probably more likely to offer the stiffer resistance against Honduras.
Either way it is going to be an enthralling watch as all three games kick-off at the same time, so there promises to be plenty of twists and turns.
Panama’s Gabriel Gomez sits on the field after the team’s 4-0 loss to the USA, but his side can still make the World Cup. Picture: APSource:AP
The Intercontinental Playoff between the AFC and CONCACAF is due to take place between November 6-14.
The first leg will be played in North America, the second leg will be played in Asia, on specific dates to be confirmed.