Australia second in World Cup group
Photo Source: AAP
A failure to win either of their last two World Cup qualifiers doesn't spell gloom for Australia's chances of reaching Russia, according to coach Ange Postecoglou.
The Socceroos emerged from a tricky away tie in Saudi Arabia and a marquee home match with Japan unbeaten, but with just two points for their efforts.
That's seen them slip from top spot in the group to second place, with just the top two assured of passage to the 2018 tournament.
Saudio Arabia now top the group after a 3-0 dismissal of UAE at home, while a four-goal haul to Mohanad Abdul-Raheem ended Iraq wait for a win as they crushed Thailand 4-0.
With Australia travelling to Thailand next month to complete the first half of the qualifying campaign, Postecoglou said things were on track.
"I said at the draw this first five-game series is where we'll set it up," he said.
"And from that perspective we're in good shape.
"We've got games coming up away and at home that we should win and win well
"It was important we didn't lose tonight. But right now I'm pretty flat."
Postecoglou can see the 1-1 draw with Japan as two points lost or one point gained.
Australia failed to win at home, which is never ideal, but Mile Jedinak's 53rd minute penalty proved once more the side is capable of righting their ship in rough seas.
A strong showing from 22-year-old Brad Smith - the youngest player on the pitch on Tuesday night - and goalkeeper Mat Ryan were among the chief positives.
Both will return to their club sides hopeful of improving their game-time to stay in the national frame.
Smith has started the last six qualifiers and looks assured of his position, while Ryan's form for Australia should carry him through despite stiff competition from Mitchell Langerak.
Ryan hasn't played for club side Valencia in two months, while Lanagerak has played every match for his German side Stuttgart.
Postecoglou said he was also keen for players to put their hands up for the troublesome right-back role - filled by Ryan McGowan against Japan - as well as other positions.
"It's no secret. We're still looking for the right kind of player for that role," he said.
"With the A-League starting there's a couple of players that have the potential to put their hand up for the November game. We'll keep looking and adjusting."
AUSTRALIA'S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP RESULTS
Australia 1-1 Japan
Iraq 4-0 Thailand
Saudi Arabia 3-0 United Arab Emirates
GROUP B TABLE AFTER FOUR MATCHES
1. Saudi Arabia - 10 points, +5 goal difference
2. Australia - 8 points, +3 goal difference
3. Japan - 7 points, +2 goal difference
4. United Arab Emirates - 6 points, -1 goal difference
5. Iraq - 3 points, 0 goal difference
6. Thailand - 0 points, -9 goal difference
* The top two sides advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia
* Third-ranked side plays the third-ranked team from Group A in a two-leg playoff
* Winner of the third-place playoff faces a CONCACAF nation over two legs for a place in the World Cup