Former Socceroo Says Australian Football Team Where They Deserve to Be

By Steve Milne
Steve Milne
Steve Milne
Steve is an Australian reporter based in Sydney covering sport, the arts, and politics. He is an experienced English teacher, qualified nutritionist, sports enthusiast, and amateur musician. Contact him at
February 2, 2022Updated: February 2, 2022

Former Socceroo Robbie Slater, who played 44 matches for his country, has said the Australian soccer team (Socceroos) are sitting where they deserve to be in their qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The team is currently in third place, three points behind Japan and four behind Saudi Arabia, a position Slater says can be attributed to the three draws against China, Saudi Arabia, and Oman.

“That’s why we’re sitting in this position, where we’re now at the mercy of having to win two games,” he told Fox Sports on Wednesday.

With only the top two teams in each group automatically qualifying for the World Cup, Australia will have to win their remaining two qualifying games or risk having to play two sudden death matches to qualify, one against a South American side.

The two remaining qualifying games are against the top two teams in the group, Japan and Saudi Arabia, making Australia’s task incredibly difficult.

Slater said there’s an expectation in Australia that because the Socceroos have made four World Cups, they have a divine right to be there.

“But I’ve said for a long time now, if you actually analyse our team, and no disrespect to our current team, that we’re not the best side in this group—far from it—and pretty much we’re sitting where we probably deserve to be,” he said.

He said that except for Tom Rogic, Aaron Mooy, and Matt Ryan, Australia doesn’t have star players in the top European leagues anymore, and most of the other players are playing at good levels around Europe, but not at the top level.

“Hey, we don’t have a (Tim) Cahill anymore,” Slater said.

“And people shouldn’t forget that last time out when Ange Postecoglou was in charge, we went through the playoffs as well, and if you remember, we were the width of a post against Syria from being knocked out of the last World Cup, and we managed to draw 2-2.”

Australia then beat Honduras comfortably in a sudden death match to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

“Not so this time,” Slater said.

Slater noted that the Socceroos haven’t beaten Japan since 2006, but if they can pull it off on March 24, this will bring them level with the Samurai Blues on 18 points.

Then, Australia will need to beat Saudi Arabia, because Japan’s next match is against Vietnam at home, which they are expected to win convincingly.

Fortunately, Australia’s goal difference is good, should the decision for a second place come down to that he said.

“So if we can manage to win both games, I’m fairly confident that we would qualify, but it’s easier said than done,” Slater said.

“They’re the two above us in the group, the two strongest teams in the group. It’s looking a bit unlikely that we’re going to be able to pull off these two wins, but it’s possible.”

Australia faces Japan at home on March 24 and Saudi Arabia away on March 29.