thumbnail Hello,

Socceroos stalwarts Lucas Neill and Mark Schwarzer say the importance of next Tuesday's match with Iraq has not been lost in the wake of Australia's 4-0 thumping of Jordan

Australia captain Lucas Neill will not allow his team-mates to dwell on the 4-0 success over Jordan in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier, with the experienced defender saying the Socceroos must concentrate on a fast start in their match against Iraq.

While Japan's 1-0 win over Iraq all-but guaranteed a spot for Australia inside the top three of Group B of AFC World Cup qualification, a win next Tuesday will secure Australia's direct passage to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

And, while the Socceroos go into the match with plenty of confidence after the best win of their campaign to date, Neill said his team must maintain focus ahead of the match in Sydney.

"I'll spend the next hour or two patting myself and everybody else on the back and then immediately we switch focus. Australia knows how important it is next week and it's up to us, the guys who have it in our hands, to go out and get the job done," he said.

 "Mark [Schwarzer] and I have started already. We've told the guys that the job is not done. There will be no shooting our mouths off in the paper thinking we are there.

"We know we've got six very positive days to have in preparation and from there we go out in front of big Sydney crowd and live that dream and get ourselves to Brazil."

 Neill says positive starts to games have played a major role in secured important results in the past week, including the 1-1 draw against Japan in Saitama, and that trend must continue against Iraq, who have upset Australia before - most notably at the group stage of the 2007 Asian Cup.

"We had a great start in Japan, a great start tonight and we need another good one against Iraq at home," he said.

"If we do that they can't afford to come and park the bus and they have to come out and play. From there we know we'll get chances.

"With the speed we've got in the team at the moment, we know we are going to have guys getting good service into the box and from there the guys will do what they are paid to do."

Schwarzer described the confidence-building nature of the win over Jordan as exactly what was required at the business end of the qualification campaign.

"Tonight was a performance we needed. We desperately needed. We got off to a great start and the end result was perfect but it's only perfect if the performance is followed up with a win next week," the goalkeeper said.

Neill said the result was a culmination of a very positive few weeks for the Socceroos, which will hopefully pave the way to World Cup qualification.

"There's certainly been a fantastic focus and great intensity in the last couple of weeks. There's a determination and a straight forward equation. We know what we have to get and we know what we have to do with one game to go and the prize is we go to Brazil," he said.

The Jordan match will hold special significance for the Socceroos captain, who scored his first goal for his country with just six minutes left in the game.

It was wildly celebrated by his team-mates, who knew how much the goal meant to Neill in his 91st appearance for his country. 

"It's a relief. I'm going to be selfish and say that I'm delighted to have scored from a yard out. That's great," he said.  

Goal Australia now has its own and account, so for all the latest news and features on Australian football follow us by clicking on the above links

Related

From the web