A gritty win against a stubborn Vietnam in Hanoi on Tuesday wasn’t just another 3-points towards the Socceroos goal of qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, it also marked their 10th victory in a row in World Cup qualifiers, an astounding feat only achieved by 3 other nations.
After a dominating 3-0 win over China in the opening game of the Third Round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Asia, the Socceroos equalled the then record of 9 consecutive wins in a qualifying tournament, after both Uzbekistan and South Korea had previously achieved the feat during their road to Russia 2018. Confidence was running high as the Socceroos entered the My Dinh Stadium for what proved to be a muggy and humid affair in the Vietnamese capital. After an early scare, with VAR being called upon in the 15th minute after a Vietnamese strike seemed to hit right back Rhyan Grant on the arm. However, much to the Socceroos relief, on field referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim waved away the players protests after reviewing the footage. In what could be described as some of the most difficult playing conditions, the deadlock was finally broken in the 43rd minute, with villain turned hero Rhyan Grant heading home a wonderful cross from the left foot of Ajdin Hrustic to score his first international goal for the green and gold, sending Australian supporters across the world into celebrations.
The goal just before the break seemed to really take the wind out of the Vietnamese sails, as the game would go on to finish 1-0. The victory for the Socceroos over the stubbornly relentless Golden Star Warriors of Vietnam, who went into these qualifiers with high hopes, moved the green and gold to not only top of their group, but into the history books. Their 10th consecutive win is the most by any Asian country and they now join the likes of Germany (Russia 2018), Spain (South Africa 2010) and Mexico (Germany 2006) as the only nations to have ever achieved such a feat in a single qualifying campaign.
According to data obtained by FIFA, the Socceroos are only 2 wins away from equalling South Korea for most consecutive wins in Asia at 12, the Korean’s of course, spanning 2 campaigns. With Germany holding the overall record of 18 consecutive wins, spanning multiple campaigns from 2013-2021.
The road doesn’t get easier for the Socceroos though, with their next World Cup qualifying match coming against Oman on Oct 7th. Oman will be no easy scalp, after having shocked Asian heavyweights and world cup qualifying favourites Japan in their own backyard, in the opening round with a 1-0 away victory in Suita City. With their 11th win hopefully behind them The Socceroos will then play their toughest opponents and biggest rivals Japan on Oct 12th. Will that be victory number 12? Will the records keep falling? Only time will tell. And as a footballing tragic, I can only dream of celebrating that day.