Martin Boyle in action against Kuwait in Australia’s second phase of World Cup qualification
The Socceroos got through the second phase with eight straight wins, with the winger scoring one goal and assisting one in the three games he played.
After the draw this morning in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, Graham Arnold’s men know the opponent who stands between them and a ticket to Qatar next year.
Australia was drawn in Group B together with Japan, Saudi Arabia, China PR, Oman and Vietnam. The group winners and runners-up in both groups will automatically qualify for the 2022 World Cup, while the third-placed winners will move into a play-off to determine which nation will play the intercontinental play-off.
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This year’s game days are scheduled for September 2, September 7, October 7, October 12, November 11 and November 16, with games on January 27, February 1, March 24 and November 29. March 2022.
While games are scheduled to take place during international break, Hibs risks losing Boyle for a handful of games this year, provided he is selected for each squad.
Australia are in action on September 7th with the first Edinburgh derby of the season taking place four days later, which may affect Boyle’s willingness to participate as the time between the international and the Scottish Premiership meeting quickly reverses.
However, the 28-year-old will almost certainly be excluded from games against Motherwell on Jan 26, 2022, Livingston on Jan 29, and possibly St. Mirren on Feb 5, while the Socceroos are on duty on Jan 27.
Arnold is hoping that Australia will get the green light to play some games on home soil, but there is still the possibility of games being played in a central location, as was the case in the final qualifying round where the team played all four games in Kuwait denies.
Meanwhile, Hibs appears to have moved on with the signing of Jake Doyle-Hayes from Boyle’s international teammate Jackson Irvine. The former Hull midfielder spent the second half of last season at Easter Road and had a contract on the table while he was in the international match, but his continued reluctance to commit has led the club to look elsewhere.