Australia will look to continue their perfect record in the World Cup 2022 qualifiers on Thursday, when they meet Oman at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.
The team from down under currently sit top of Group B, whilst their opponents sit third, having pulled off a shock victory in their first game.
As is often the case in the early stages of qualification in the AFC, Australia destroyed the competition in the second qualifying round, winning all eight games and conceding just two goals.
The Socceroos have seemingly carried that form into the next stage too, winning their first two matches in the third round without conceding a goal.
Two goals in two minutes from Awer Mabil and Martin Boyle set Graham Arnold‘s side on their way in the first Group B match, with Mitchell Duke adding a third in the 70th minute to secure a comfortable 3-0 win over China in Doha.
A trip to Hanoi to take on Vietnam in their next game proved tougher, but Rhyan Grant‘s first international goal edged a narrow 1-0 victory which sees them topping the group on goal difference from Saudi Arabia.
The pandemic has made life particularly difficult for Australia, as ongoing restrictions in their home country mean the Socceroos cannot play international matches on their own turf – a significant blow to a side that has lost just one home World Cup qualifying fixture since the early 1980s – hence another trip to Doha for what would have been a home game.
Nonetheless, they remain one of the favourites to progress to the World Cup finals for a fifth consecutive time, and have started this round in the perfect manner.
Oman, on the other hand, were expected to have been satisfied just to reach this stage of qualification for the third time.
The Reds progressed by finishing as runner-up to Asian champions Qatar in Group E, winning an impressive six of their eight games, despite a shaky start where they fell behind to India in their opening game.
They appear to be dreaming big this campaign, however, and secured a shock 1-0 victory in their first game of the third qualifying round, beating Japan away from home thanks to an 88th-minute winner from Issam Al Sabhi.
Another tough match against Saudi Arabia five days later saw them end up on the other end of the same scoreline, despite a strong performance, but they can be reasonably pleased to have taken three points from those two fixtures and with the effect that new manager Branko Ivankovic appears to have had on the team.
They now face an even bigger challenge, as they try to come away with something against a team on a run of 10 consecutive wins, but can perhaps draw on the momentum of an emphatic 7-2 friendly win over Nepal last week.