So it all comes down to this.
After two years on the qualification path and countless kilometres covered, Australia’s hopes of qualifying for Russia 2018 hinge on a single result.
After setting up the slim advantage of a 0-0 draw against Honduras in the Central American leg of the intercontinental World Cup play-off, the task is simple: win and you’re in.
Concede an away goal and things get a bit trickier, but nevertheless the same objective stands.
The Socceroos’ efforts away from home against Los Catrachos saw them return home with plenty of confidence, even though glorious chances went begging.
And given that performance, plus the added perks of a home pitch and the effects of a chartered flight with state of the art recovery technology, the signs are good.
As has been vigorously reported, this could prove Ange Postecoglou’s final match in charge, and whether he likes it or not, failure to qualify for the World Cup will see his legacy seriously damaged.
Key Battle – The midfield two vs Honduras’ forwards
Having dominated away, all the expectation is on the Socceroos to dominate the game and eventually make their chances count.
That should prove the case as it so often does on Australia’s home turf, wherever they may be playing.
The Hondurans will concede possession and look to strike in transition, and if they have done their homework they will have pinpointed that as Australia’s weakness.
The Socceroos’ midfield duo just has to keep the ball and cut out needless errors going through midfield. Such will be their control on the game that that could just about be Honduras’ only route to goal, via a mistake.
Dictate the tempo early and that should be enough; an educated guess suggests Honduras will not be able to press high for 90 minutes after their travel.
Australia joined Honduras in having their yellow card count wiped, meaning there are no suspensions to contend with.
They appear in good shape on the injury front too, with each team member training fully on Monday. Postecoglou has hinted there will be changes and potentially lots of them.
Tim Cahill has declared himself fit and over his ankle injury, while Robbie Kruse and Mathew Leckie have joined the squad in addition to Mark Milligan.
Changes to the lineup that started at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano should be expected, either to inject new blood or, as Postecoglou has put it, to put the pedal down.
While the Honduras travelled to Sydney via a gruelling commercial flight minus the luxuries of the Socceroos, they will be able to bring in some fresher legs with striker Eddie Hernandez expected to feature.
Socceroos Expected XI (3-2-4-1): Ryan (GK); Milligan, Sainsbury, Jurman; Luongo, Jedinak; Leckie, Behich, Kruse, Mooy; Juric.
These nations have met just once at senior level, and that was Saturday’s 0-0 draw in San Pedro Sula.
There is so much at stake on the Olympic Park turf, and Australian football could do without missing the World Cup in its current state. The equation is simple for Postecoglou’s men: win and you are in. Based on the evidence of the opening leg, the Socceroos should have far too much quality and endurance, but Honduras of course will not lay down easily. Striking early will be important for Australia. The longer the game goes scoreless, the more it will suit the Hondurans.
Socceroos 2 Honduras 0