Saudi Arabia qualified for the 2022 World Cup on Thursday without even playing a game thanks to Japan’s 2-0 win over Australia in Sydney.
Two late goals from Kaoru Mitoma not only gave Japan a deserved win after an entertaining game but also meant Japan go top of Group B with 21 points, two ahead of the Green Falcons who take on China later today.
— Saudi National Team (@SaudiNT_EN) March 24, 2022
Crucially however, Saudi Arabia are four points clear of Australia in third and as the Socceroos have just one game remaining – in Jeddah next Tuesday – the race for the two automatic qualification spots in the group is over.
While it is good news for Saudi Arabia, it means that the third-place team from Group A, currently the United Arab Emirates, are going to face Australia in the continental play-off. The winner of that will take on South American opposition for the final place in Qatar.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) March 24, 2022
The possibility of play-offs is no longer a concern of Herve Renard. A sixth World Cup is a just reward for an excellent qualification campaign but also means that the games against China in Sharjah today and against Australia next week mark the start of preparation for the big event.
Whatever happens in Sharjah however – and the French boss has already said that he wants to finish in first place – today will be a day of celebration in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and elsewhere in Saudi Arabia.