|By JOHN GRECO
Australia coach Holger Osieck concedes the pressure is on his side to get a result from June's World Cup qualifier against Japan after their road to the World Cup hit an unforeseen snag on Tuesday.
The Socceroos were expected to take a giant leap towards Brazil by beating Oman at ANZ Stadium but had to rely on an 85th-minute Brett Holman strike to salvage a 2-2 draw.
On a scrappy and tense night for the home side, they found themselves 2-0 down early in the second half before a trademark Tim Cahill header and Holman's 25-metre strike spared their blushes.
The result leaves Australia in a serious dogfight with Oman, Jordan and Iraq for the final automatic qualifying spot from Group B.
Jordan did their ambitions no end of help by shocking Japan 2-1 a few hours after Australia's match, ensuring they leap-frogged the Socceroos into second in the Group B standings.
The Socceroos have a game in hand and finish the qualifying campaign in June with home matches against Jordan and Iraq but face a trip to Japan before that.
Osieck views the Japan clash as pivotal to Australia's hopes of reaching the World Cup finals and admits he might need to make a raft of changes to ensure there's no repeat of the Oman performance.
"There's no doubt we're going to be there and we have to get a result," Osieck said of Australia's next qualifier in Saitama in early June.
"We still have the two home games but you can never count on them.
"We have to definitely display a better performance and not just over 30 minutes but 90 minutes.
"So we have to talk about this and seriously consider who we use on the next trip.
"We can't travel to Japan and just give it away. That's not a good attitude and we won't do it."
Socceroos attacker Alex Brosque, formerly of J-League side Shimizu S-Pulse, added: "It's important after the disappointment of this game that we're able to pick ourselves up and comeback.
"You saw today we got two important goals and I think with a game in hand we can take something from it.
"I still think with two remaining [home] games we need to focus on getting maximum points there.
"But definitely we have to go to Japan thinking we can win otherwise there's no point going there."
The Socceroos will have to improve significantly on Tuesday's showing if they are to trouble the Blue Samurai.
Their passing was largely too slow and the movement lacking to trouble the well-organised and deep-lying Omani defence.
After having his squad in camp for over a week to prepare for the clash, Osieck admits his side's poor showing came as a huge surprise.
"It was definitely not what we expected. We had different hopes going into that game but unfortunately the first half did not go to plan and we almost had to pay dearly for that," Osieck said.
"We always passed backwards; we had no penetration or quick balls to the centre. We basically played into their [hands] and that's why we didn't do well in first half.
"It has to do with concentration, focus and that was simply not what I expected it to be.
"In the second half you could see that spirit was back, the boys really tried to turn things around.
"But it's a 2-2 draw and we have to live with that right now."
Oman coach Paul Le Guen said a draw was more than he could have asked for in a difficult road trip but lamented a huge missed opportunity.
"It's quite a good result but when you lead 2-0 you expect more, you dream," he said.
"Maybe we were lucky at the end [not to lose] but I think we deserved the draw."
Socceroos midfielder Mark Bresciano, who was a second-half substitute, lasted barely 20 minutes before being forced off with a knee injury.
He will have scans on the knee before heading back to his club side in the Middle East but early indications are it is a medial ligament strain.