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The Lebanese national soccer team faces Australia on Thursday in a match fraught with danger in Parramatta, Australia. Part of Group Nine of the qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup, the match promises to be a crucial one for the Cedars.

On Thursday at 11:10 AM (Beirut time), all eyes will be on the pitch of the Commbank Stadium in Parramatta, where the Lebanese national soccer team will clash with Australia in a qualifying match for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup. It will be an emotional moment for fans of both teams, as both nations vie for a coveted place in world soccer’s most prestigious tournament.

For Lebanon, the match is of particular importance. Although the Lebanese national team has never participated in a World Cup, it dreams of writing a new page in its sporting history by qualifying for the 2026 tournament. The Lebanese players have been working hard for many years to achieve this goal, and this match represents a crucial step in their journey.

In contrast, Australia has a long tradition of World Cup success. The Australian team has participated in several editions of the tournament, often advancing to the knockout stages. The Socceroos, as they are known, are renowned for their dynamic play and fighting spirit on the pitch. For them, this match against Lebanon is an opportunity to confirm their status as a footballing powerhouse in their region.

The Lebanese national soccer team will play its third qualifying match in these qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup. This is one of two meetings between the two teams in Australia, as they will meet again on the 26th of this month.

The Lebanese team currently occupies second place in Group Nine after picking up two points from their first two games, drawing with Palestine 0-0 and Bangladesh 1-1. Australia, on the other hand, started their qualifying campaign with a comprehensive 7-0 win over Bangladesh, followed by a 1-0 victory over Palestine last November.

Numerous Absentees

There is no doubt that these two matches against one of the strongest teams on the continent will be the most difficult for Lebanon for several reasons. Firstly, they will be played after a long journey to the opponents’ home ground, with the first match taking place at Commbank Stadium in Parramatta, and the second at GIO Stadium in the capital Canberra, designated as a “neutral” ground for Lebanon. However, the players will have to travel by car from Sydney for around four hours.

Lebanon is expected to enjoy massive support during the first match from the Lebanese community in Sydney, but the situation will be different for the second match. However, the other problem lies in the absences that have hit the Cedars’ ranks, who are without several experienced players on the international scene for various reasons. Hussein Zein, Felix Melki and Alex Melki are not in the squad, nor are Jihad Ayoub, Hassan “Sonny” Saad and Qassem Zein, who was suspended after being sent off in Lebanon’s last match against Tajikistan in the Asian Cup.

Radulovic Believes in His Team

On Wednesday, Montenegrin Miodrag Radulovic, Lebanon’s coach, said that the strength of the Australian team, which features players at the highest level of world soccer, “should be a source of inspiration for the players of the Lebanese team to deliver a good match, in addition to the expected support of the public, which should partly compensate for the travel difficulties and climatic changes to achieve a positive result.” “As usual, I believe in my team and I hope they will rise to the occasion,” concluded the coach.

For his part, team captain Hassan Maatouk declared, “Today we face Australia with a team that I can describe as constantly evolving, bringing together experienced and young players. This match is very important for us, and we know how important every point is in these qualifiers. So we have to concentrate and do whatever it takes to get the best possible result, as we aspire to go through to the next round of World Cup qualifiers and qualify for the Asian Cup once again. Both games against Australia will be tough, but in soccer, the opportunity is always there.”

Australia Mobilizes Their Stars

For its part, despite a few absences, the Australian team has mobilized a group of outstanding players, both locally and abroad, including Lebanese-born Viking (Norway) midfielder Patrick Ziegler (21), who had previously been tempted by the Lebanese national team but ended up opting for Australia.

Alongside him, Australia’s best current playmaker will make his return, Hellas Verona striker Aiden Hrustic. Coach Graham Arnold has also recalled center-forwards Adam Taggart and Brandon Borrello but will have to contend with a number of absentees including Aziz Behich, Martin Boyle, Marco Tilio and Aiden O’Neill.

On paper, given their history and resources, Australia are overwhelming favorites to face Lebanon. But logic is not always respected in soccer. Fingers crossed


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