13/04/2024

The Socceroos lining up pre-game before their final group stage match against Uzbekistan at the 2023 Asian Cup. Photo Credit: Aleksandar Jason/Subway Socceroos

Football Australia announced on Friday that the Socceroos will be making their way to Canberra to take on Lebanon on Tuesday March 26.

The news comes as a result of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) informing Lebanon that their designated home game would need to be played in a neutral venue.

Lebanon have already played a designated home game in neutral territory during the current World Cup Qualifying cycle, having done so in the November 2023 Men’s international window.

After the AFC approved the fixture to take place in Australia, Canberra was confirmed to be the preferred location after discussions between Football Australia, the Lebanon Football Association, and the ACT government.

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Football Australia CEO James Johnson said the fixture was an opportunity to provide support to the Lebanon Football Association during a time of need, while bringing international football back to the nation’s capital.

“I think first and foremost we wanted to be good global citizens and support our counterparts at the Lebanon Football Association,” Johnson said.

“We’ve been assisting them in the delivery of this match, doing anything we can to support them in what are difficult circumstances. Our game has an amazing ability to bring people together and our work with Lebanon is the perfect example of that.

“For all intents and purposes this is a home game for Lebanon, despite it being played on Australian soil. Our team at Football Australia will be doing everything possible to assist them in the successful delivery of this match.

“I’d also like to acknowledge Chief Minister Barr and the ACT Government for the role they have played in making this fixture possible. I cannot thank the Minister and his team enough for their commitment and hard work to date.

“We’re looking forward to seeing top-flight international football return to Canberra.”

The last time Australia played as the designated away team in Australia was during the 1986 World Cup qualifying campaign against Chinese Taipei in Adelaide.

The Socceroos last played in Canberra during a 5-0 victory over Nepal in October 2019, during the 2022 Men’s World Cup qualifying cycle.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said that he was looking forward to returning to Canberra.

“I think it’s fantastic we’ve been able to assist a member of our Confederation who is facing challenging times,” Arnold said.

“Throughout my time as Head Coach, we’ve had limited opportunities to play in front of home crowds, so to have two matches in this window in Australia is extremely pleasing.

“I know the players are looking forward to coming home, and we’re expecting Lebanon to throw everything at us in what will be two important matches in our pursuit of the third round of qualification.”

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