Socceroos Asian Cup explainer: Road to the knockout stage and final

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The expanded tournament means plenty of different paths for the green and gold

The 24-team Asian Cup in the UAE makes for a complicated scenario when it comes to the knockout stage with two teams going through from each of the six groups - along with the four best third-place finishes to make a final 16.

Australia was favourite to go through to the round-of-16 as group winners but their opening match defeat to Jordan, and the Chivalrous' subsequent win over Syria, means the best they can finish is second in the group after victory against Palestine.

Currently, Jordan lead the group with six points, while Australia (three), Syria (one) and Palestine (one) trail behind.

What result do the Socceroos need against Syria on Wednesday (12.30am AEDT) to get to qualify out of the group? Who could the green and gold play in the knockout stage?

Goal has you covered with an explanation of the scenarios...


Socceroos win or draw vs. Syria


Jamie Maclaren Socceroos

A win or draw versus the Syrians will guarantee Australia progresses from group B as the second-highest ranked team.

Even if Jordan lose against Palestine and Australia win, the green and gold cannot finish higher than the Chivalrous because the tiebreaker is done on head-to-head results.

If Graham Arnold's men share the points in their final group match, it will ensure they finish above the Syrians and Palestine - who will still be below the Socceroos with a win against Jordan because of head-to-head

If the Socceroos finish second, they will likely be paired with runner-up from group F in the round-of-16 - which will likely be Uzbekistan.

Group F will likely be decided by the final group game between Japan and Uzbekistan, although it must be noted the Blue Samurai weren't particularly impressive in their opening 3-2 win against Turkmenistan.

Falling on to the other side of the draw means Australia, providing they get past the first knockout match, will likely meet hosts UAE in the quarter-final and South Korea or Saudi Arabia in the semi-final.


Socceroos loss vs. Syria


Socceroos Jordan Aziz Behich Awer Mabil

The Socceroos situation gets far more complicated if they lose against Syria - with the scenarios ranging from third position to bottom of the group.

If Australia are defeated, they will finish third if Jordan beat or draw with Palestine but will be placed last if the latter manage to win the match and will be heading home from the UAE early.

It's very likely that Australia would still qualify for the knockouts if they placed third as one of the four teams in that position to go through.

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This is because the green and gold have compiled three points with a positive goal difference, while four teams currently in third are yet to get a point.

A third-place finish for the Socceroos will see them drawn against either the winner of group C or D - with the percentage heavily weighted toward the former.

The group C winner will either be South Korea or China, while Iran or Iraq will triumph in group D.

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