Six times around the world: Socceroos' road to Russia

The Socceroos' road to Russia has taken them the equivalent of around the world. Then around again. And around four more times, for good measure.

Beginning in the Kyrgyzstan capital of Bishkek some 29 months ago, the Socceroos' journey has taken them to Jordan, Tajikistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and throughout Australia. Their final road trip leads them to San Pedro Sula in Honduras in what will be remembered as the most arduous path to a World Cup any team has endured in the tournament's 88-year history.

From the Socceroos' official base on Oxford Street in Sydney, the core camp will have travelled more than 251,970 kilometres by the time they learn their World Cup fate on home soil in less than a fortnight. Players based in Europe and Asia will likely have travelled much further.

The home second leg against Honduras on November 15 will be the last of the Socceroos' 22 games played this campaign. Should they be successful, they appear certain to set a record for the number of matches required to reach a World Cup.

If successful against Honduras, Australia will definitely have played the most games to reach the 2018 World Cup. If Peru beat New Zealand in a home and away play-off, they will have played 20 games to qualify for Russia.

Honduras endured a marathon campaign, but their two-game series against Australia brings their tally to 18.

By contrast, Egypt and Nigeria have already reached the 2018 World Cup and will play only eight games to qualify and the nine direct qualifiers from Europe played 10 group games.

It's not just the distance between venues that has forced the Socceroos to rack up so many frequent flyer miles, but a punishing schedule. Of their 22 games, only one international window has included two games played in the same region. Australia's final two qualifiers of the first Asian Football Confederation group stage against Tajikistan and Jordan were played at home. The trip between Sydney and Adelaide was the shortest distance travelled in one window of this gruelling campaign.

Western Sydney Wanderers defender Josh Risdon will be travelling to Honduras with the Socceroos and has been part of nine games this campaign and says the distance travelled was a difficult obstacle for the players to overcome.

"It is tough, you get dehydrated on the plane, heavy legs on long flights and obviously the time difference as well," he said. "Places like Kyrgyzstan and Bangladesh, it was 24 hours and then out we went. It's pretty tough but we get well looked after."

Not accounting for the various transfers and delays, the longest distance the Socceroos have travelled from Sydney was a trip to Amman in Jordan.

One of the more complicated trips was playing Bangladesh in Perth before playing Tajikistan in Dushanbe five days later. However, the team is saving its most difficult journey for last. The odyssey to San Pedro Sula in Honduras, via the US and back to Sydney is more than 31,000 kilometres.

While the performances and results that put Australia on the play-off path have come under scrutiny, they only suffered two defeats on the road in what appears to be the most difficult qualifying series ever. Their toughest test now awaits, but the Socceroos are hoping to be hardened.

"It's a strong group in the camp, nobody lets travel be an issue," Risdon said.

This story Six times around the world: Socceroos' road to Russia first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.