AUSTRALIA has been handed a significant boost in the build-up to its World Cup playoff with Honduras, after FIFA dramatically wiped the slate clean for eight players fearing suspension in the second leg.
FIFA wrote to Football Federation Australia early on Monday to say that the yellow cards accumulated by Tom Rogic, Mile Jedinak, Tomi Juric, Massimo Luongo, Jackson Irvine, Milos Degenek and Josh Risdon would not carry over from the group stages into Saturday's first leg.
Robbie Kruse was also in yellow card trouble but hasn't made the trip to Honduras due to injury.
It means all of them can play in the knowledge that earning a booking in the first leg won't rule them out of the second leg in Sydney on Wednesday week, a ruling that is likely to infuriate the Honduras Football Association.
However, as is the norm in such situations, suspensions do carry over - so Mark Milligan and Mathew Leckie will still be banned for the first leg, and will meet the rest of the squad in Sydney for the return fixture.
The ruling from FIFA follows several weeks of lobbying of the Asian Football confederation by FFA officials, on the basis that games in the playoff round should not subject to the same regulations as the group stages as they are effectively "exceptional circumstances".
AFC in turn made the request to FIFA in the past few days.
FIFA had seemed to accept this argument last week in wiping the cards accumulated by Peru and New Zealand's players for their playoff, on the basis that a disparate number of qualifiers meant the side that played more games had more chance to be penalised.
On Sunday the secretary of the Honduran FA, Jose Ernesto Mejia, had claimed that his players would have their booking annulled, but not Australia's.
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