|By MICHAEL HUGUENIN
Australia striker Alex Brosque has emphasised the importance of an early goal in next Tuesday's 2014 World Cup qualifier versus Oman in Sydney.
The Socceroos head into the crucial qualifier in second position in the Asian Football Confederation's Group B, equal on five points with Iraq and Oman but with a game in hand.
After a stuttering start to the final stage of the their qualification campaign, the Socceroos know a positive result in Sydney can put them on track for a berth at Brazil 2014 and Brosque believes an early goal at ANZ Stadium is crucial.
"We just really need to focus on those first 10-15 minutes," Brosque said on Thursday.
"I think we've shown in the past if we score early against teams here it can open up a game a whole lot more for us.
"The longer it stays at 0-0 or even if they sneak a goal, the more they tend to get confidence and think they're in with a real chance.
"So I think the quicker we can sort of, you know, stop that and get an early goal then I think it goes a long way to winning the game."
Brosque is likely to be paired with Tim Cahill up front against Oman.
While Cahill said earlier in the week that the Socceroos should focus on crossing the ball so he can utilise his much-vaunted heading ability, Brosque has argued Australia will not be so one-dimensional.
"If can get balls in the box to him [Cahill], he's always a danger," Brosque said.
"If that doesn't work, we've definitely got other ways to try and get around them."
Brosque has just over two months left in his first season with Al Ain and claims he is enjoying his time with the leaders of the United Arab Emirates' Pro League.
The 29-year-old former Sydney FC attacker has scored 13 goals in 22 games this season as a striker, which has been a welcome change after several seasons as a midfielder with Japanese club Shimizu S-Pulse.
"Our team is very good and we're top by about six points," Brosque said.
"So I think we do get a lot of chances throughout the game and we've got a fantastic number 10 who plays just in behind, who is creating chances all the time and I've been able to benefit off that."