Socceroos great Robbie Slater hammers lack of World Cup qualifying coverage on free-to-air TV for Bangladesh clash

Australia’s Socceroos continued their qualification journey towards the 2026 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Bangladesh on Thursday night.

But thousands of fans were left angry they couldn’t tune in after the free-to-air TV failed to air the Asian qualifier second round match at Dhaka’s Bashundhara Kings Arena.

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Network 10 and its streaming affiliate Paramount Plus hold the rights to the Australian national teams.

Thursday night’s game was behind a paywall on Paramount Plus and was not well received with huge crowds and a great Socceroo.

Football enthusiast and freelance writer Pablo Bateson was among those to express his frustration at the lack of coverage of the game.

“Very disappointing Socceroos WCQ v Bangladesh not on FTA – needs an explanation from Football AUS why this was allowed?” wrote on X.

Among the responses to Bateson’s post was a simple two-word message from Australian great and Premier League winner Robbie Slater: “Absolute disgrace!”

The fan replied to the 44-time Socceroo: “Can’t you do anything about it Robbie?”

Slater replied: “Haha no but the FA should! It’s too late now.”

It was a sentiment shared by many other football fans on the social media platform.

One wrote: “It makes me sick to see the game being treated this way.”

Another wrote: “Matilda are everywhere on FTA TV and the Socceroos behind a paywall, it’s really poor.”

A third commented: “Oh I’d like to watch this but I can’t because our national team isn’t on free-to-air.”

Another fan wrote: “Only on Paramount? What a farce. Channel 10 this is not acceptable at all.”

Other fans suggested the network could use one of its free-to-air channels, which includes the main 10 channel as well as 10 Peach and 10 Bold.

The match will be shown last on 10 Bold, with a replay on Friday at 10am AEST.

Some other fans, however, said the situation reflected the current state of Australia’s men’s national team.

The Socceroos stunned everyone when they made it out of the group stage, losing 2-1 to eventual champions Argentina in the round of 16 of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Still, the team is not enjoying itself as much as it used to be, especially when world names such as Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer were at their best.

“Maybe it’s because nobody wants to watch socceroos at the moment given the boring boring style of play we play. Kind of proves it when the Matildas sell out stadiums and the socceroos couldn’t fill a small suburban ground,” was one comment on X.

“Because the socceroos are second-rate and not good to watch when they play low-ranked competition,” suggested another.

Despite the lack of national coverage, the Socceroos have done their best in the qualifiers to date with a win over Bangladesh, who have gone 5-0 in their Group I matches and already advanced to the next stage.

The Socceroos’ final World Cup qualifier will be against Palestine on June 11.

Australia’s journey towards the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States then continues in September when the third round begins.

But they will want to go one better than they did against Bangladesh with Arjun Hrustic’s strike viciously deflecting off Bangladesh defender Mehedi Mithu in the 29th minute.

The victory was completed by Kusini Yengi with a “textbook header” in the 62nd minute.

However, it was nothing to write home about for the Socceroos.

There was heightened interest in action ahead of Thursday’s game as Socceroos coach Graham Arnold gave Bayern Munich phenom Nestory Irankunda his debut.

Irankunda failed to impose himself on the game in the humid conditions in Dhaka, although he placed the ball in Hrustic’s goal.

Irankunda said he “could have done better” but was “really proud” to get his first Socceroos win.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” he said.

“Only my decision let me down, but sometimes I did the right thing. There is still room for improvement.

“We succeeded (given the) conditions. We achieved the result we came for and also a clean sheet.”

The Australian side are bidding to reach their sixth consecutive World Cup final.

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