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Socceroos to play first home match in more than two years

Australia will play their first match on home soil in 763 days after next month’s World Cup qualifying clash with Saudi Arabia was Friday confirmed for Sydney.

The Socceroos last played in front of their fans against Nepal in Canberra in October 2019 before being forced overseas when Australia’s borders slammed shut because of the coronavirus.

It has seen them play 11 of their 12 qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar abroad, although it hasn’t hurt their form.

They clocked 11 wins in a row — a new record in the same World Cup qualifying campaign — before Japan ended the run this month with a 2-1 triumph in Saitama.

Australia’s strict coronavirus rules have begun easing and coach Graham Arnold said the 20,000-plus fans expected for the game between the top two in Group B would give the team new energy.

“I believe that playing in front of home fans at a beautiful stadium and on a great pitch will help us,” he said.

“Fans can provide energy to players and teams, and after having been away from Australia for so long, I expect that our players will harness and utilise the support that will be in Western Sydney Stadium on November 11.”

Japan’s win blew Group B of Asian qualifying wide open in the battle for the two automatic spots for Qatar.

Saudi Arabia are in control with four wins from four and top on 12 points, with Australia second on nine. Japan and Oman are three points further adrift.

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