This is where Australia sit as they begin the second half of their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying phase with this month's double header against Iraq and the UAE.
Source:
AAP
14 Mar 2017 - 7:06 PM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2017 - 7:06 PM

Last November's 2-2 draw with minnows Thailand has left the Socceroos' World Cup qualification path on precarious footing.

Australia sit third in Group B, one point outside the top-two automatic qualifying zone, and begin the final five qualifying games playing catch-up.

TRICKY ROAD TO RUSSIA 2018

With Group B as it lies, a top-two finish is far from straightforward. One point separates the top four in a bottleneck that gives even more weight to all of this year's five fixtures. Leaders Saudi Arabia and second-placed Japan are level on 10 points, while Australia and the fourth-placed UAE are on nine.

EVEN THIRD PLACE IS NO GUARANTEE

Finish third and Australia still have a chance to qualify via a play-off against the third-placed team from Group A. That would be followed by a difficult tie against the fourth-placed CONCACAF nation, which could be Mexico or even the United States. Even that path isn't simple anymore. The UAE are pushing hard and the March 28 showdown in Sydney shapes as a must-win for the Socceroos.

McGree could get Socceroos game time, insists Postecoglou
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has signalled he won't be afraid to hand 18-year-old wildcard Riley McGree an international debut in the upcoming crunch World Cup qualifiers.

IN AUSTRALIA'S FAVOUR

This year's draw. Ange Postecoglou's men have already done the hard yards in away matches and they'll now benefit from home fixtures against the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Thailand. While that doesn't guarantee points, it's a markedly easier run than last year's gruelling travel schedule. First up, though, they must play Iraq in neutral Iran. And of course, August's away blockbuster in Japan that could be the clincher.

GROUP B STANDINGS

Saudi Arabia -- P 5, W 3, D 1, L 1, GD 4, Pts 10

Japan -- P 5, W 3, D 1, L 1, GD 3, Pts 10

Australia -- P 5, W 2, D 3, L 0, GD 3, Pts 9

UAE -- P 5, W 3, D 0, L 2, GD 1, Pts 9

Iraq -- P 5, W 1, D 0, L 4, GD -2, Pts 3

Thailand -- P 5, W 0, D 1, L 4, GD -9, Pts 1

Socceroos striker Juric eyeing 'something big'
Tomi Juric has answered Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou's call for more ambition from his players, declaring he is "pushing for something big" in one of Europe's top leagues.

AUSTRALIA'S REMAINING WORLD CUP QUALIFYING FIXTURES

Iraq (A) March 23, 2017

United Arab Emirates (H) March 28, 2017

Saudi Arabia (H) June 8, 2017

Japan (A) August 31, 2017

Thailand (H) September 5, 2017