Following their second ever appearance at the World Cup in 2006, Australia’s passage to the 2010 tournament in South Africa proved far easier after leaving the Oceanic federation for the Asian football Confederation.
The Australians were one of the first teams to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa after cruising through their final Asian qualifying group stage with only one goal conceded.
Due to their superior seeding, the Socceroos automatically progressed through the first two knock out qualifying rounds. In the third round, they were drawn in a four team group where every team played eachother home and away.
Their first match got off to a perfect start as Australia scored three first half goals to record a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Qatar. A disappointing goalless draw away to group minnows China PR followed before a slender 1-0 victory at home to Iraq.
At this point, the team looked nailed on for a top two spot which would take them through to the final qualifying stage. However, a poor 1-0 defeat in the reverse fixture to Iraq ensured the group was wide open. Nevertheless, they performed admirably in the away fixture to Qatar who were level on points with them at the time of playing. Two goals from Brett Emerton and a late strike from Harry Kewell gave Australia an impressive 3-1 victory and guaranteed qualification. The side ended up losing their final match 1-0 at home to China PR but the result was irrelevant as Austrailia topped the group on goal difference.
AFC Third qualifying round
The ten teams that progressed from Round three were split into two groups of five. The top two in each group would automatically go through to the World Cup whilst the two teams finishing in third place would meet in a play off for the final qualification spot.
Australia’s group looked fairly kind on first glance with Japan as the only country with any national pedigree to challenge them. Their first match of the group was away to Uzbekistan which the Socceroos managed to win 1-0 with a single Scott Chipperfield goal seperating the two sides. A much better result followed at home in their second game as their third meeting of the qualification process against Qatar ended with a 4-0 victory for the hosts.
A further 1-0 away victory against Bahrain before a well earned 0-0 draw in Japan put Australia in command of the group. Their 5th game of the group saw a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Uzbekistan with goals from Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell. However, they were held to a goalless draw away to a stubborn Qatar side before a 2-0 victory at home to Bahrain confirmed that they would be present in South Africa next year.
The final game of the group saw Austrailia concede their first goal of the group against Japan. However, two goals in the second half saw the team come from behind to win 2-1 and top the group unbeaten.
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