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WC Qualification Asia

  • 26 March 2013
  • • 19:30
  • • ANZ Stadium, Sydney
  • Referee: R. Irmatov
  • • Attendance: 34603
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World Cup qualifying preview: Australia v Oman

World Cup qualifying preview: Australia v Oman

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Finally back on home turf, Australia can edge closer to Brazil with a win over Oman in Sydney on Tuesday. A loss, however, could prove disastrous

  PROBABLE LINE-UPS

AUSTRALIA

Schwarzer
Wilkshire, Thwaite, Cornthwaite, Zullo
Kruse, Jedinak, Holman, McKay
Brosque, Cahill
OMAN

Al Habsi
Mudhafar, Saeed, Suhail, Al-Owaisi
Mubarak, Al-Musalami, Al-Farsi, Ibrahim
Muqbali, Al-Hosni


Australia face one of their most important World Cup qualifiers in some time when they host Oman at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Tuesday.

With four nations still in contention for the second automatic qualifying spot from the group, victory will go a long way towards either country booking their ticket to Brazil in 2014.

Australia, who are level on points in Group B with both Oman and Iraq - with Jordon one further back - would appear in the box seat as they have a game in hand and three of their last four matches on home soil.

But coach Holger Osieck is taking nothing for granted and has said nothing but victory will do in this clash.

It is why there are expected to be few surprises when he reveals his starting XI just before kick-off.

While captain Lucas Neill and midfielder Carl Valeri are unavailable due to suspension, Osieck has been able to select most of his first-choice players.

The biggest conundrum for the German will come in central defence, where the likes of Rhys Williams, Michael Thwaite, Robbie Cornthwaite, Mark Milligan and Jade North all contenders for the positions.

Alex Brosque and Tim Cahill are expected to lead the attack while Mark Bresciano and James Holland are fighting to partner Mile Jedinak in central midfield.

"I'm now in a position that I have to admit I really haven't been in before in that I will really have some headaches but positive ones," Osieck said of team selection.

While the Socceroos' last match ended in a 3-2 friendly defeat to Romania, they will start heavy favourites in this clash and have recorded two big wins in their last two clashes with Oman in Australia.

Oman's two most well-known and important players remain goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and striker Imad Al Hosni.

But the classy Fawzi Bashir is no longer around having announced his retirement from international football after he was not selected in the squad for this qualifier.

Manager Paul Le Guen is in the middle of regenerating the Omani side, meaning the bulk of the travelling party on this occasion is made up of the side that won the Under-23 Gold Cup two years ago.

"We have to accept that some [players] are on the verge of finishing with the national team, so we have to refresh," Le Guen said.

Attacker Eid Al-Farsi is one player Australia must keep an eye on, while striker Abdullaziz Al Miqbali scored a hat-trick in their most recent match - a 3-0 friendly win over Haiti.

The Socceroos have met Oman on six previous occasions, winning three of those with just the one defeat.

Their previous meeting was in the first round of this qualifying stage, with the two sides playing out a goal-less draw at a sweltering Muscat in June last year.

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