World Cup qualifying preview: Australia v Iraq
Iraq have nothing to play for but pride, while the ultimate reward awaits for Australia. Can the visitors pull off an unlikely result to upset the Socceroos' World Cup dreams?
By Goal Australia
Wilkshire, Ognenovski, Neill, McKay
Kruse, Bresciano, Milligan, Oar
Waleed Salem, A. Ibrahim, Bahjat, Adnan
Khalid, K. Ibrahim, Salman, Sabah
Iraq is their final hurdle; a team described by Australia's captain Lucas Neill this week as a "bogey team".
Australia coach Holger Osieck will be hoping his men blitz Iraq early just they did against Jordan last Tuesday in Melbourne.
Iif this World Cup qualifier remains tight at half-time, expect plenty of nerves up until the final whistle.
Although Iraq cannot qualify for Brazil 2014 after losing 1-0 at home to Japan on June 11, they have been a regular thorn in the Socceroos' side since Australia joined the Asian Football Confederation in 2006.
Iraq famously stunned Australia 3-1 at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup on their way to the title, while they also knocked off the Socceroos in a World Cup qualifier in Dubai in 2008.
In the other three meetings since the 2007 Asian Cup, the Socceroos have only won by a single goal on each occasion.
That includes their comeback triumph in Doha when Tim Cahill and Archie Thompson scored in the final 10 minutes to earn a 2-1 victory and an extra-time win at the 2011 Asian Cup thanks to a very late header from Harry Kewell.Eight years after John Aloisi's famous penalty to send the Socceroos to the 2006 World Cup, ANZ Stadium will again be the venue as Australia attempt to secure qualification in the space of one match.
After the impressive attacking display at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium against Jordan, Osieck and Neill's main task this week will have been to ensure no complacency crept into the squad.
If the Socceroos fail to win in Sydney, Oman could leapfrog them into second spot in AFC's Group B, which would leave Australia facing a pair of two-legged play-offs for a last shot at Brazil 2014.
Victory is the key in Sydney and Osieck's team have been handed good news in the lead-up to Tuesday's match with Iraqi veterans Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram pulling out of the game due to disagreements with the Iraq Football Association.
Attacking midfielder Alaa Abdul-Zahra was sent off against Japan and will be suspended for the clash with Australia.
With several other players left at home, it should be a youthful and somewhat experimental starting line-up for Iraq.
Osieck will be expected to select the starting XI to face Iraq that took to the field against Japan and Jordan in the past fortnight.
This means Crystal Palace's Mile Jedinak will likely remain among the substitutes, with Melbourne Victory's Mark Milligan again handed the defensive midfield role.
With Iraq having scored just two goals in their past five matches, Australia will give the visitors plenty to worry about on Tuesday if they can show similar attacking intent as they did versus Jordan.
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Top 3 Predictions
Australia 2-0 Iraq
- 15.22 %
Australia 2-1 Iraq
- 12.66 %
Australia 3-0 Iraq
- 11.38 %
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Asia) (WCQA)||18/06/2013||Australia 1 - Iraq 0|
|World Cup Qualification 2014 (Asia) (WCQA)||17/10/2012||Iraq 1 - Australia 2|
|Asia - Asian Cup (ASIA)||23/01/2011||Australia 1 - Iraq 0|
|Asia - Asian Cup (ASIA)||14/07/2007||Iraq 3 - Australia 1|
|19/11/2013||Australia 1 - Costa Rica 0||FR|
|16/10/2013||Canada 0 - Australia 3||FR|
|12/10/2013||France 6 - Australia 0||FR|
|08/09/2013||Brazil 6 - Australia 0||FR|
|28/07/2013||Australia 3 - China 4||EAFF|
|2||Lucas Edward Neill||Defender|
|3||Mark Daniel Milligan||Defender|
|9||Joshua Blake Kennedy||Striker|
|-||Ahmad Ibrahim Khalaf|
|-||Ali Bahjat Fadhil||Defender|
|-||Dhurgham Al Quraishi||Midfielder|
|-||Jalal Hassan Hachim|
|23||Halkard Mulla Mohammad||Midfielder|
|-||Mostafa Karim Abdullah|