Socceroos heading to Sharjah to meet China

China’s inability to play World Cup qualifiers at home means it will ‘host’ the Socceroos in Sharjah later this month.

The Socceroos will return to the Middle East following their Sydney clash against Saudi Arabia, with confirmation their World Cup qualifier against China will be played in the United Arab Emirates.

The Australians will play on home soil for the first time since October 2019 when they host the Saudis – who top Group B in the third round of AFC World Cup qualifying – at CommBank Stadium on Thursday week.

However, while Covid-19 travel restrictions have been lifted to allow the Socceroos to again play at home, it’s a different case in China.

As a result, the Chinese national team must continue to play its home matches on foreign soil.

China will “host” the Socceroos in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, November 17 (AEDT) at the 18,000-capacity Sharjah Stadium.

The Socceroos will have no qualms about playing the match in the UAE after winning a host of games in the Middle East in the past two years.

However, the timing of the match against China isn’t good for A-League champions Melbourne City, who start their title defence on Friday, November 19 at AAMI Park against Brisbane Roar.

City’s star attackers, Mat Leckie, Jamie Maclaren and Andrew Nabbout, are all expected to be named in Graham Arnold’s latest Socceroos squad, set to be announced on Friday.

Any City players chosen in the squad face a tight turnaround in their bid to play in the opening match of the A-League season.

City faced a similar situation in last season’s finals series, but managed to defy the absence of Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe – who were on Socceroos duty in Kuwait – to win the title.

Socceroos coach Arnold arrived back in Australia on Monday after a stint of almost six months overseas.

Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant and Melbourne Victory attacker Chris Ikonomidis – the only two A-League players in the Socceroos squad for last month’s World Cup qualifiers against Oman and Japan – are both out of quarantine and training with their clubs.

The Socceroos, whose 11-game winning streak was ended by Japan, are in second place in Group B, three points behind Saudi Arabia, who have a perfect record of 12 points from four matches.

China has just three points from four matches, with only Vietnam behind them on the Group B ladder.

The top two teams from Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Originally published as The Socceroos’ road to next year’s World Cup will take them to Sharjah to meet China

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Cricket news; Marnus Labuschagne made 136 on a big day for Queensland

Facing over 200 balls wasn’t enough for Test star Marnus Labuschagne who wants to pile on runs before the Ashes.

Test star Marnus Labuschagne still wanted more after he made Tasmania pay for a dropped catch by posting his 19th first-class century and first for the season for Queensland in Townsville.

Labuschagne hadn’t passed 50 in four innings for the Bulls so far this season, across one Sheffield Shield match and two-one day games, in a slow burn to his Ashes preparation, with two singles figures scores among his output.

But he did face a mammoth 179 balls for a hard-fought 45 against South Australia in a drawn game in Adelaide, in a sign the batting-machine was going through his gears and he worked up to full steam against Tassie on day one of their Shield clash.

Dropped by Tigers skipper Beau Webster when he was on just 22, Labuschagne was at his shot-making best, pounding 15 fours and a six in his score of 136.

“I’d much rather still be out there batting. I’m disappointed getting out to that second new ball, ” he said after stumps.

“I’m always asking myself ways to get better, 130s are a good score and you’re not complaining about that but you want to make it into a big 180-plus score.

“They’re the sort of knocks that really put your team on the front foot (and) I certainly want to be making big scores.

“Obviously I missed out the first two games with a really big score, but I was able to spend some time (in the middle) and really found some rhythm out there.

“As a cricketer I don’t think anyone is really satisfied ever, it’s just one of those games.”

His Queensland captain, Usman Khawaja, fresh off what he called his best ever Shield century in Adelaide last week, continued his push for an Ashes call-up, with a half-century of his own.

Khawaja was 63 not out at stumps, guiding Queensland to a dominant 3-311 at stumps on day one after former Test opener Joe Burns also made 72.

Labuschagne had logged scores of 32, eight and 45 in the Bulls‘ first two games of their Shield title defence, while he was out for six in a one-dayer against South Australia.

It was a reduced output for a man who averages 60.8 in the Test arena,and an output that wasn’t going to last long.

Unlike most of his fellow Test batsman, Labuschagne will have three Shield matches under his belt before the opening Ashes Test at the gabba on December 8.

Former Australian one-day bowler Gurinder Sandhu was called up for his maiden Shield game for Queensland, to face his former side.

The 28-year-old, who played two ODIs for Australia in 2015, is playing for this third state have also represented NSW and Tasmania before shifting to Brisbane.

Fast bowler Connor Sully was also included for his Shield debut having played his first one-day game for Queensland already this season.

Tasmania may have rued the decision to rest veteran seamer Peter Siddle, to man age the 36-year-old’s workload, after his match winning five-wicket haul in the second innings guided the Tigers to victory over WA last weekend.

Originally published as A score of 136 for Marnus Labuschagne wasn’t enough as he eyes off big runs going in to the Ashes

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