Socceroos return to Perth for World Cup qualifier

The final qualification stage of the Socceroos’ Road to Russia will kick-off in Perth when Australia take on Iraq at nib Stadium on September 1.

The Socceroos will return to Perth almost a year to the day after they thrashed Bangladesh 5-0 at the same venue.

A “healthy commitment” from the West Australian Government is said to have helped Perth secure the 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Football Federation Chief David Gallop said the match venue was the perfect mix of football and commercial interests and called on football fans to support the fixture.

“We are pleased to be taking the Caltex Socceroos back to Perth for the first match of this final round of World Cup qualifying,” Gallop said.

“I’d like to thank the West Australian Government and Premier Colin Barnett for his continued support of Australian football.

“West Australia has a proud football tradition and we look forward to seeing the people of Perth get behind Ange Postecoglou and the Socceroos as they take the next steps along the road to the 2018 World Cup.”

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou backed the decision, stating: “We’re happy to be coming back to Perth for the match against Iraq to start our next round of World Cup Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup,” he said.

“The people of Perth and the facilities were fantastic when we played Bangladesh last year and we come to Perth in September safe in the knowledge we will be well looked after and play in front of a passionate green and gold crowd.”

But Iraq will prove much stiffer opposition than the Bengal Tigers. 

Perth’s facilities and the ability to transfer smoothly into Dubai for the clash with the United Arab Emirates on September 6 also played a significant part in the decision to play the match in WA.

“Playing this game in Perth gives us the best possible opportunity to perform to our optimum for the first two matches of what will be a long and tough qualification,” Postecoglou said.

“The World Cup qualifiers present some logistical challenges for the team, especially on the double dates, and Perth is well placed to allow smooth passage to Dubai.”

West Australia’s two current Socceroos, Trent Sainsbury and Josh Risdon, gave the venue choice the thumbs up.

“I’m thrilled to hear we’ll be playing the World Cup Qualifier against Iraq in Perth,” Sainsbury said.

“Perth is my home town and I look forward to wearing the green and gold in front of my family and friends. I missed the last game in Perth due to injury so I’m happy we will be heading back there.

“The West Australian sporting public are passionate about football and I have no doubt we will walk out to sell-out crowd when we face Iraq on September 1.”

Risdon, who is captain of A-League club Perth Glory, added: “I’m fortunate to play my club football in front of family and friends but it would be an unbelievable experience to be part of a Socceroo squad for the match against Iraq in Perth.”