The Socceroos will play in Perth for the first time in over a decade when they kick off their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign in the west later this year.
Australia’s opponent for the clash will not be known until the draw takes place in April, with the date for the game also set to be decided then – with July or September the most likely.
The newly-crowned Asian champions have not played in Western Australia since they beat Indonesia 3-0 in a friendly at Subiaco Oval in 2005 in front of just 13,719 fans.
But Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop said he was confident that the Perth sporting public would support this game – which will be played at nib Stadium, the home of A-League leaders Perth Glory.
The WA government contributed $94.14 million towards the redevelopment of the venue in 2013, while the newly covered Eastern Grandstand and the new Southern Grandstand took the capacity for the venue to around 20,500.
There may be a chance to increase that figure at the northern end, as FIFA rules insist that no standing room areas are permitted for World Cup Qualifiers, so there is uncertainty around what will happen with the infamous “shed”.
“The Socceroos are on a role. They are Asian Cup champions; we know they played well in Brazil without getting results and this a fresh opportunity to see this fantastic young team playing in Australia,” Gallop said. “These opportunities don’t come around very often.
“This game means something; it’s a genuine qualification game, so I would expect fans would want to get out a watch the Socceroos.
“The first time the Socceroos will play in Australia after their Asian Cup win will be in Perth.”
Gallop said that while the FFA was keen to see the Socceroos play games in venues all around Australia, the WA government had made it worth their while to schedule the match in Perth.
“We obviously talked to a number of major event corporations and a number of state governments,” he said. “But it had to be worth our while to do that. It’s also important we make a good commercial return. I’m pleased to say the government has assisted us in that regard.
“We are likely to play eight or nine times. So it’s a home-away system, so we are likely to be in Australia about four times. First time will be here in Perth.”
If Perth football fans can fill nib Stadium for the World Cup qualifier, they may be rewarded with a Socceroos return in 2018 – the year that the Final will be played in Russia – to play the opening event of the new stadium in Burswood.
“Every time we play it’s an opportunity for people to vote with their feet and come out and sit in the seats,” Gallop said.
“We’re very confident about where the Socceroos are at in terms of the national following they’ve got.
“We said last week we’d very much like to be part of the opening of the new stadium. The Socceroos are the team we think represents the diversity, the multiculturalism of the country. And it would be fitting for the opening of that new ground to have the Socceroos playing.”