Football Australia chief James Johnson expects the Socceroos to stride out on home soil for the first home time in nearly two years, with the looming visits of Oman and Saudi Arabia set to be sanctioned by government.
Johnson has been working feverishly behind the scenes to convince authorities to give a tick to a Covid-secure hub for the games in October and November, and indications are the Group B third round visits of Oman (October 7) and Saudi Arabia (November 11) will go ahead at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.
In a further boost supporters with negative Covid tests , and those who have been vaccinated, are likely to be granted entry to one or possibly both fixtures.
Overeas-based Socceroos will also be handed waivers from 14-day quarantine edicts, with Johnson explaining: “We’re looking at October (at home) to possibly go ahead, and there’s a very good chance for November also.
“There’s a policy around getting people back into stadiums (possibly with vaccine certification or negative Covid tests)," he told FTBL.
“NSW and the federal government have got to the point where they’re just going to open up, push through and get vaccinations to about 70 per cent of the population. That’s when things are going to soften.
“I’m actually confident at this stage that we’ll see crowds at hopefully at least one of those October and November games.”
With the NSW government more willing than the other states to ease rigorous Covid restrictions, Johnson sees Bankwest Stadium as being the Socceroos’ home base in the medium term.
“I don’t see the other states, particularly Queensland and Western Australia, as necessarily following the same strategy at this point,” he said.
“All of a sudden playing national level competitions becomes a bigger challenge than international football because of the different ways the states are tacking Covid.
“I’m more confident of playing national team football in Australia right now than I am playing A-League, W-League and FFA Cup.
“There are a lot of issues over how the various states tackle COVID and that’s going to have a real impact on the sport.”
With the Matildas ready to live a Women’s Cup dream in their own backyard in 2023, and the Socceroos on course for Qatar 2022, Johnson said that despite the buffeting wrought by Covid, the FA was in “good shape”.
“We’re very different to many other sports in that we’ve doubled our revenues in the last 12 months, we have the Women’s World Cup to look forward to and participation numbers (at grassroots level) are going up.
“We’re not out of a challenging period but things are moving in the right direction.”
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