East Asian Cup qualifying preview: Guam v Australia

The Socceroos need goals in their final two East Asian Cup qualifiers, putting minnows Guam firmly in the crosshairs on Friday



Leon Guerrero, Paulino, Borja, S Nicklaw
Guy, Romero, Cunliffe, Adamos
Merfalen, T Nicklaw

Marrone, Djulbic, Cornthwaite, Jamieson

Emerton, Rogic, Milligan, McKay
Babalj, Thompson

Australia may need veteran striker Archie Thompson to roll back the clock and have a tilt at his goal-scoring world record when the Socceroos take on Guam on Friday.

Australia sit second in the standings in the East Asian Cup qualifying tournament after a 1-0 win over host nation Hong Kong on Monday and a 1-1 draw versus North Korea on Wednesday.

Victory in their final two qualifying matches against Guam and Taiwan would take the Socceroos to 10 points, which may be enough to advance to the final stage of the East Asian Cup unless North Korea defeat Hong Kong on Sunday, which means goal difference will become a factor.

North Korea, who smashed Taiwan 6-1 and Guam 5-0 in their opening two qualifiers, have a goal difference of plus 10, while the Socceroos have just plus one, meaning goals will be crucial on Friday for Holger Osieck's side.

Thompson does not have a considerable profile outside of Australia, but is in Fifa's record books for the scoring the most goals ever in an international match when he hit the back of the net 13 times for the Socceroos against American Samoa in 2001.

Then 22, the striker led the way as the Socceroos destroyed the then-lowest-ranked nation in football 31-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Coffs Harbour.

While Guam have a much higher Fifa ranking than American Samoa did back in 2001, Australia still have enough quality to easily account for the tiny Pacific island.

Having selected close to his most experienced line-up so far in Hong Kong, Osieck has guaranteed the younger players in his squad will be given more game time against Guam and Chinese Taipei.

Osieck has been generally quite resistant to using younger, untested players since he took over as the Socceroos head coach in August, 2010, and revealed he was "very surprised" when a relatively inexperienced line-up defeated South Korea 2-1 last month.

Friday's game will be the Socceroos third in five matches and Osieck's preferred line-up looked fatigued in the draw with North Korea, meaning his decision to use younger players against Guam may have been forced upon him.

Either way, some fresh players with no fear may be exactly what Australia needs to get on top of Guam early and score enough goals to bridge the goal difference gap to North Korea.

Having come off the bench in both games so far, expect A-League sensation Tom Rogic [Central Coast Mariners] to start against Guam, while Eli Babalj [Red Star Belgrade], Adam Taggart [Newcastle Jets] and Aaron Mooy [Western Sydney Wanderers] could all add something for Australia in terms of creating and scoring goals.

Guam, meanwhile, have a youthful squad full of United States born-and-bred players, with New England Revolution winger Ryan Guy perhaps the most high-profile of their nationalised crop.

They are led by Englishman Gary White, who had a stint playing in Australia with Fremantle City in the 1990s.

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