FIFA approves Saudi Arabia-Japan move Australia made to wait


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Australia may not know its 2018 World Cup fate until the morning after their must-win clash against Thailand.

Owing to time differences and expected scorching temperatures in Western Asia, FIFA has determined the final round of Asian Group B qualifiers due to be played on Tuesday, Sept. 5 will not kick off simultaneously.

That could mean a nervous wait — or a sleepless night — for fans hoping for certainty from Australia’s match against Thailand, which will be played at 8 p.m. local time at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Even if the Socceroos win, it may not be until the conclusion of Saudi Arabia’s meeting with Japan in Jeddah, which begins at 3.30am AEST the following morning, that the road to Russia becomes clear.

Unless Ange Postecoglou’s men can upset Japan in their penultimate qualifier in Saitama on Aug. 31, the Socceroos may need a favourable result from the Saudi-Japan clash to confirm a fourth consecutive World Cup appearance.

Otherwise, a playoff against the third-placed team in Group A — currently Uzbekistan — and then another two-legged clash with the fourth-placed CONCACAF qualifier — currently Panama — will be on the cards.

Japan currently sit atop Group A with Saudi Arabia second, tied for points with third-placed Australia but ahead by one on goal difference.

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