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Socceroos in chaos as key pair ruled out of BOTH crucial World Cup qualifiers

The Socceroos have copped a brutal blow for their crunch World Cup qualifiers against Japan and Saudi Arabia with two players ruled out due to Covid.

Adelaide United’s Craig Goodwin has been deemed a close contact and will miss both crucial matches while FC St. Pauli’s Jackson Irvine has tested positive in Germany and will not travel.

It sees Melbourne Victory’s Ben Folami and Blackpool’s Kenneth Dougall brought into the 27-man squad.

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Australia is already missing gun playmaker Aaron Mooy who tested positive to Covid.

Folami is one of six uncapped players in the squad, along with Gianni Stensness, Bruno Fornaroli, Nick D’Agostino, Kye Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson.

Fornaroli was a shock inclusion for the squad, having represented Uruguay at under-17 level but never in the seniors.

Craig Goodwin will miss the Socceroos’ final World Cup qualifiers. (AAP Image/James Gourley)
Craig Goodwin will miss the Socceroos’ final World Cup qualifiers. (AAP Image/James Gourley)Source: AAP

Australia sits third in Group B in the Asian World Cup qualifiers, three points back of Japan and four points behind Saudi Arabia, with the top two sides qualifying for Qatar.

With Japan to face bottom side Vietnam in its final qualifiers match, Australia realistically needs a minimum of four points to have any hope of automatic qualification, and more likely two wins.

The Socceroos host Japan on March 24 in Sydney before playing in Saudi Arabia on March 29.

At worst the Socceroos will finish third in their group and head into the playoffs, needing to beat most likely the UAE and then the fifth-placed CONMEBOL (South America) side, likely one of Uruguay, Peru or Chile, for a spot in the World Cup.

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