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World Cup qualifying: Australia v Bangladesh preview

Australia will begin their journey towards the 2026 FIFA World Cup when they take on Bangladesh in Melbourne on Thursday evening.

Since 2006, the Socceroos have managed to qualify for every World Cup and will fancy their chances of doing so again.

The process will be long and hard as usual, but with the 2026 World Cup set to be expanded from 32 to 48 teams, there are more automatic qualification spots available.

The first job is for Australia to get through the Second Round of qualifying and to do that they must finish in the top two of Group I.

They are in a group of four along with Bangladesh, Lebanon and Palestine and as long as there is no complacency, the Socceroos should get the job done.

WhatAustralia v Bangladesh
WhereAAMI Park, Melbourne
When20:00 (AEST), Thursday 16th November
How to watchFoxtel, Kayo
OddsAustralia 1.006, Draw 30.00, Bangladesh 81.00

Current form

Expectations have heightened since their performance at the 2022 World Cup, when they made it to the Round of 16 before losing to Argentina.

Since the World Cup they have won one and lost one against Ecuador, before losing 2-0 to Argentina and holding Mexico to a 2-2 draw.

Australia’s recent form has been solid enough and they picked up a 2-0 win over New Zealand last month, just days after a narrow 1-0 defeat against England.

Now all eyes turn to the two World Cup qualifiers to be played this month. First up is Bangladesh on Thursday, before a clash with Palestine on Tuesday 21st November.

Arnold makes minimal changes

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold is sticking with a familiar looking squad for the matches against Bangladesh and Palestine.

Arnold has made just four changes to the squad that went up against England and New Zealand last month.

Goalkeeper Tom Glover is not getting any minutes with Middlesbrough in England and has been left out, along with fellow goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.

Veteran defender Milos Degenek also misses out, along with winger Awer Mabil.

There will also be no Nathaniel Atkinson and Riley McGree, who are both on the sidelines through injury.

The Socceroos are going through something of a rebuild at the moment, so the squad is a blend of youth and experience, with Arnold likely to utilise most of his squad over the course of the two games.

The road to the World Cup will spread over three years and 16 matches and Arnold will be keen to introduce some of his talented youngsters during that time.

But for now, the Socceroos need to ensure they are winning games and the old heads will be there to get the job done.

The strikers will be led by Jamie Maclaren, Mitchell Duke and Brandon Borrello, while there is plenty of attacking talent elsewhere.

Craig Goodwin and Martin Boyle will be key, but Melbourne City ace Mathew Leckie is missing through injury.

No room for complacency

Despite being up against three of Asia’s lower ranked nations, Socceroos ace Aziz Behich says there is no complacency within in the squad.

The left-back says they have set "high standards" and whether they are playing Argentina or Bangladesh, they will head on to the pitch with the same attitude.

Bangladesh are ranked 183 in the world while Australia sit 27th, so as long as they have the right attitude, nothing other than a comfortable win should be on the cards for Arnold’s men.

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