Behich, a socceroo, aims for the top spot in WC qualifying.

Behich, a socceroo, aims for the top spot in WC qualifying
Behich, a socceroo, aims for the top spot in WC qualifying

Aziz Behich has stated that the Socceroos are determined to win their Asian qualifying groups and advance to the 2026 World Cup in style, despite the high expectations surrounding them.

There is now eight direct qualification spots available from Asia, up from four, which gives competitors more leeway to make mistakes in their quest for a spot in the 48-team tournament.

Behich, though, is unwilling to watch the Socceroos falter through the qualifying round, much less need another intercontinental play-off.

Australia’s qualifying campaign begins on Thursday night at AAMI Park with matches against Palestine in Kuwait five days later and low-ranked Bangladesh at the same venue.

“We want to top the group throughout the whole process, so that’s our main goal,” Behich stated.

“The number of qualified teams is not a concern for us.

“We went through the play-off phase again last campaign and we don’t want to do that again.”

The 27th-ranked Socceroos have a strong chance of winning their second-round qualifying group against Palestine (96), Bangladesh (183), and Lebanon (104).

The top two teams proceed to the third round, where they have the opportunity to earn a direct World Cup qualification.

Behich stated that the Socceroos’ attention will be on their own performances in their return to competitive action following recent friendlies against New Zealand, England, and Mexico against obscure opponents in the second round.

“We’re not looking for an underdog or a favourite or whatever,” Behich stated.

We have high expectations for ourselves and know what we are capable of producing on the field.

“Whether we (play against) a higher-ranked country or a lower-ranked one, nothing will change.

It’s a football match between nations. All we want is to improve with each practice and each match.”

After ten years away, left-back Behich returned to Melbourne City this season, and he expressed delight that the Socceroos will be playing qualifiers at home.

It follows the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign, which was largely played in a hub following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was difficult for us, no home games pretty much, so we’re excited that the first game’s at home in front of our fans,” Behich stated.

We’re all eager to go because it’s exciting.

“That hub was challenging, but in the end, we succeeded in finishing the task.

“Now teams have to play in Australia and we’re always confident at home.”






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