The Socceroos have convened for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19 for a UAE training camp ahead of four brutal World Cup qualification games in eight days.

Australia enters the remaining four matches of Group B two points ahead of their nearest rival with a game in hand, but the Socceroos' two realistic rivals for qualification, Kuwait and Jordan, have been playing regularly throughout the pandemic.

Kuwait, which will host all of the matches on home soil and are scheduled to play Australia at their 60,000 seater national stadium in the Socceroos' very first match, have played five times in 2021 alone.

Kuwait has played against top quality opponents in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, losing both, but by admittedly close margins. The Kuwaitis also lost against Palestine in their first match of 2021, 1-0.

But their recent form has been much stronger, thrashing Malaysia 4-0 just two days ago, after drawing 1-1 with Lebanon at the end of March. Kuwait also has the unknown factor of a new coach, Andres Carrasco, who was a former assistant at Western Sydney Wanderers.

For 11 years he was a coach at Barcelona's La Masia academy. 

Kuwait also has a jam-packed squad to choose from (watch out for 21-year-old Shabaib Al Khaldi, he has three goals in seven Kuwait caps) and will have almost every advantage heading into the first game against Australia.

But Jordan presents an even tougher task.

Jordan has played a whopping 10 matches since the COVID outbreak, playing right through the end of 2020 and the start of 2021.

They even have another friendly booked for the end of May against Vietnam, so make that 15 matches total before Australia plays them at the end of Group B, in what could be a do-or-die encounter. 

The Jordanians' form has been fairly strong as well. They're coming off a heavy loss against the UAE but before that had won or drawn six of their past eight matches.

Jordan won against Bahrain, Lebanon and Syria and drew against Iraq and Oman. Their two losses came against growing powers in Central Asian opposition, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. They're still coached by Vital Borkelmans, the Belgian boss who masterminded their shock upset against Australia at the Asian Cup.

Jordan, like Kuwait, bring a totally Middle Eastern based squad except for one showstopper, 23-year-old fullback Musa Al-Taamari, who was brought to Belgian attention by Borkelmans and has been playing regularly in the Belgian Pro League for OHL since.

Taiwan and Nepal are essentially already mathematically eliminated from 2022 World Cup qualification, although they still have 2023 Asian Cup rankings to play for.

A huge amount will depend on the individual form of the Socceroos that Graham Arnold chooses for these matches, and potentially on the international form of Jamie Maclaren.

Two of the strongest Aussie performers in Europe this season, James Jeggo and Callum Elder, are already ruled out with injuries.

There's no shortage of potential replacements, but while pundits may have all-but pencilled Australia in at the undefeated stage in 2019, now it looks as if it might come down to the wire.