The Socceroos had topped their three team group (of South Korea and Japan) unbeaten in the First Round of Asia & Oceania Qualifying. The Second Round saw them pitted against Rhodesia, and after a 1-1 draw and a 0-0 draw a play-off was required, which Australia won 3-1. All three games were played in Mozambique, and within the space of six days.
Israel, having had a bye in the First Round, only had two games to play in the Second Round, after North Korea withdrew for political reasons. The Israelis defeated New Zealand 4-0 and 2-0 (both games in Tel Aviv) to progress to the Final Round against Australia.
The first leg of the final round saw Israel take a 1-0 win at the Ramat Gan Stadium in Tel Aviv. The game was played just five days after Australia's play-off win in Mozambique, with Israel having had the luxury of a month's break since their games against New Zealand.
The return leg was played on December 14, 1969 at the Sydney Sports Ground.
Australia v Israel Match Programme
Thanks once again to the magnificent work of George Cotsanis (of My World Is Round) in converting and restoring some old film, we can now watch almost half an hour of highlights from Australia's first near miss World Cup Qualification heartbreak.
Australia dominated the early stages, but were unable to make a breakthrough. Attila Abonyi went close early on, with Johnny Warren having a good effort from distance saved before failing to convert a great heading opportunity. Israel worked their way into the game, which remained on a knife's edge until George Keith was beaten a bouncing ball when an intercept or clearance seemed easy enough, which saw Mordechai Spiegler slip through on goal and convert to put Israel ahead with eleven minutes remaining. John Watkiss was able to equalise nine minutes later, but it proved too little too late as Australia were unable to get the win required to book a place in their first World Cup Finals.
Spiegler benefits from a defensive slip to get a run at goal for the opener.
Watkiss on the turn about to net Australia's equaliser.
Heartbreak for the big crowd at the final whistle.
Sydney Sports Ground, December 14, 1969.
Referee: Ferdinand Marschall
Australia 1 (Watkiss 88') Israel 1 (Spiegler 78')
Australia: Ron Corry, George Keith, Manfred Schaefer, Alan Marnoch, Stan Ackerley, Danny Walsh, John Warren, Attila Abonyi, John Watkiss, Ray Baartz, Billy Vojtek (Willie Rutherford 60').
Israel: Itzhak Visoker, Shraga Bar, David Primo, Zvi Rosen, Menachem Bello, Shmuel Rosenthal, Giora Spiegel, Meir Barad (Rahamim Talbi 60), Yehoshua Feigenboim, Mordechai Spiegler, Itzhak Shum (Mordechai Lubetski 88').