Cancelling a lead-up match to the crucial World Cup qualifier with Iraq has helped the Socceroos focus, believes attacking midfielder Holman
|By SACHA PISANI
Brett Holman believes Australia's decision to cancel an international friendly match will aid the team's bid for a positive result in their upcoming World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
The Socceroos were scheduled to meet the United Arab Emirates in a warm-up match before facing Iraq in Doha on Wednesday [AEDT].
But following Australia's shock 2-1 defeat to Jordan in September, manager Holger Osieck opted out of the fixture in order to keep his squad fresh ahead of their 2011 AFC Asian Cup quarter-final rematch.
Holman, whose performances at club level saw him named Aston Villa's player of the month for September, said the cancellation of the friendly has given Osieck a chance to address some key areas.
"I think it's helped that the game was cancelled in Dubai and you grab a lot of positives out of that," Holman said.
"It's one of those things where you can work a little bit extra on the tactical side and if you have two games it's a little bit difficult.
"You can work on a lot more things. The coach can address different things that he wants to look at and work on and obviously experiment a little bit and it's been good so far."
The Socceroos remain winless after three qualifying matches, with two draws and a loss to date.
And while they trail Group B leaders Japan by eight points with five games remaining, the Villa midfielder feels the Socceroos are yet to reach crisis point.
"I think it's more a confidence sort of thing more than to say it's a must-win," he said.
"I think if we do get a victory then it definitely gives a big morale boost to the squad, to the coaching staff and just everybody around the camp.
"So I think that will give us a fantastic boost."
Australia's opponents Iraq also share a winless record during the final phase of qualifying, with just two points from three matches.
With so much at stake heading into Wednesday's clash, the 2007 Asian Cup champions kick-started their preparations with a trip to the Swedish city of Malmo, where they were soundly beaten 6-0 by five-time World Cup champions Brazil.
Zico's side were completely outclassed on Thursday, but Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic, who is expected to partner captain Lucas Neill in the heart of defence, is refusing to look to deep into the result.
"Obviously it was a friendly game and come next week it's a World Cup qualifier so the intensity will be a lot different," the Al-Arabi defender said.
"You have to take into consideration Brazil are one of the best teams in the world and we know Iraq are a good team. We had a great game against them last year in the Asian Cup so we have to be ready but I have doubt we're good enough to get all three points."
The former Urawa Red Diamonds player also revealed there was a "different" vibe leading into the crucial encounter at Al Sharabi Stadium.
"You can feel the atmosphere in camp is a little different to previously and the boys are fully focused," Spiranovic said.
"We are tight bunch so we are sticking together and pushing and supporting each other and you will see that next week."
Meanwhile, Fortuna Dusseldorf striker Robbie Kruse is confident the new generation of Socceroos are now at a level to force their way into Osieck's plans on a regular basis.
After a mixed start to life at Dusseldorf, which saw Kruse often named as a substitute in a promotion-winning campaign, the former Melbourne Victory man has started all seven of the club's Bundesliga games.
And with a number of players competing regularly across some of Europe's biggest leagues, Kruse believes the younger generation are starting to make a name for themselves.
"There are a lot of young players that are now playing for their clubs in Europe," Kruse said.
"You've got James Holland, Ryan McGowan, Adam Sarota, Tommy Oar, there's a lot of players here playing... and Nikita Rukavytsya.
"So hopefully that can put pressure on the older players and in the end we're all here to qualify for the World Cup."