Graham Arnold won't accept the narrative that the Socceroos are out of the race to automatically book their World Cup finals spot via their qualifying group.
A month out from arguably the Australia's biggest match in 15 years, coach Graham Arnold insists the Socceroos hold the edge over rivals Japan in the race to qualify for this year's World Cup.
Socceroos World Cup qualification
- The Socceroos are playing Japan and Saudi Arabia next month.
- They are currently third in the Group behind both nations.
- A third place finish would result in two more matches to ensure qualification.
More World Cup Qualification news can be found on FTBL.
Arnold's team face the Samurai Blue at Stadium Australia on March 24 in what is effectively a must-win fixture if the Socceroos are to have any hope of securing one of two automatic berths for Qatar 2022.
The 2-2 draw with Oman in Muscat earlier this month left Australia third in their qualification group -- three points adrift of second-placed Japan but with a superior goal difference.
A win over Japan in Sydney will lift the Socceroos back into the automatic qualifying positions before they travel to face leaders Saudi Arabia in their final group match.
If Australia can't secure a top-two finish they'll face the third-placed team from the other Asian qualifying group in a playoff before the winner of that match advances to a one-off showdown with South America's fifth-placed finisher for a spot at the World Cup.
"It's very, very clear what we need to do to qualify directly," Arnold told the Australian Associated Press.
"We do have Plan B tied up exactly like it was in 2018 where we finished third and we had to go through a playoff but we're not talking about that.
"This next window is a win-win situation because at the end of the day we go out on the pitch, we know what needs to happen and we get out there and we get a massive crowd behind us and we go out there with a positive attitude ... we leave nothing in the tank -- we go for it."
Australia's result in Oman, in which the visitors appeared to have secured a priceless win before conceding an 89th-minute penalty, left several Socceroos players visibly shattered on the pitch.
Arnold admitted the mood post-match was one of disappointment but is confident he'll have restored morale and belief before the Japan game.
"We knew that no matter what happened that we'd have to win both of our last games to qualify, so nothing has changed in that respect," he said.
"Keeping the belief in the players is by communicating with the boys and positive reinforcement of what we are doing well and learning from past mistakes.
"We are the leading goalscorer in both groups in Asia with 15 goals and with a goal difference of plus nine, which is like an extra point.
"What we did learn is we've got to tidy up our defence and we need a better reaction when we lose the ball and we need to make sure that we win those one-v-one battles and play a more physical game and that's what I expect in this next window."
Arnold expected the factor of Stadium Australia -- scene of some of the Socceroos' greatest triumphs -- to also prove pivotal against Japan.
"We've never had a home of football and if ever there is a place that feels like home it is Stadium Australia," he said.
"Guus Hiddink and those memories right through until winning the Asian Cup as well as qualifying against Honduras.
"Obviously the stadium has a lot of great history but the most important thing is we need a full stadium to make it even better."
The full A-League Men's schedule can be found using this link.