By Marc Llewellyn
The Socceroos are heading to the Adelaide Oval to play Saudi Arabia on Thursday June 8, and the match has a huge bearing on whether they qualify directly for the 2018 FIFA World Cup or not.
Australia is currently in third place in Group B of the Asian Football Confederation World Cup qualifying rounds, behind Japan and Saudi Arabia. Only the two top teams automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year.
The road to Russia will be a lot tougher if the Socceroos end up coming third in their group. If this happens, the Socceroos would have to play both home and away games in October against the third-placed team in Group A. If they won, they would then face the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF play-offs (America’s Champions League) in a November home and away series. CONCACAF includes teams from North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.
Following the match against Saudi Arabia in June, the Socceroos play their last scheduled group matches against Japan (August 31, in Japan), and Thailand (September 5, in Melbourne).
Come to Adelaide to support the Socceroos
“The World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia is a vital match as the Socceroos look to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and Adelaide is the ideal place for us to play such an important game,” says Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.
“Qualifying for the World Cup is a long and difficult challenge that ultimately comes down to moments and big games and the clash with Saudi Arabia is one of those occasions. While no game is easy, we are currently locked in a battle with Saudi Arabia and Japan for the two automatic places at the World Cup. Just three points separate us, so this game against Saudi Arabia is pivotal, especially as we are playing on home soil.”
The team hopes to exploit the home ground advantage, Ange says. He also believes local passion will give the Socceroos an extra lift.
“Last year we played Tajikistan at Adelaide Oval and the way we were treated all week by the locals was fantastic. The hotel, city, people and, of course, Adelaide Oval made us feel welcome and comfortable. It was a contributing factor in our 7-0 victory. The atmosphere on the night was tremendous and the players really got a lift from the sea of green and gold that was behind them throughout the game.”
A sports fan’s dream long weekend in Adelaide
As well as the Socceroos v Saudi Arabia game, on the Thursday before the Queen’s Birthday June long weekend, sports fans can also head to the Adelaide Oval to see the Adelaide Crows take on St Kilda in a AFL match up. The Adelaide Crows are strong contenders to finish at the top of the ladder.
If you feel like kicking on after the games there are plenty of places nearby to choose from.
Adelaide Crows players recommend the West End alleyway restaurants and bars in Peel Street and Leigh Street, which are an easy walk from the Oval. Favourite eateries include Bread & Bone, La Rambla Tapas Bar, Peel St Restaurant and Gondola Gondola.
More big events surrounding the soccer game
There is something for everyone around the time the Socceroos play Saudi Arabia. Don’t miss the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which takes place at the Adelaide Festival Centre from June 9 to June 24. It’s one of the biggest in the world and it has a reputation for attracting some of the best local, national and international cabaret performers.
Also on is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Matilda the Musical, inspired by the children’s novel by Roald Dahl. This award-winning musical, about a girl with supernatural powers, has been a worldwide hit. It will be on stage at Adelaide’s Festival Theatre from May 21 to July 16.
Meanwhile, the McLaren Vale Sea & Vines Festival takes place on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, from June 10 to 12. This celebration of food and wine is held in one of Australia’s most famous wine-producing areas. Expect long lunches, artisan food, cooking demonstrations, and wine-themed events across the region. It’s just a 45-minute drive south of Adelaide.
Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are located at Adelaide Airport.