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Played
September 6, 2011 6:30 PM BST
Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium — Ad Dammām (Dammam)
Referee:‬ Y. Nishimura‎
Attendance:‬ 15000‎
 

Fifa World Cup Qualifier Preview: Saudi Arabia - Australia

Holger Osieck's Socceroos make the long journey to the dusty port city of Dammam to face Frank Rijkaard's Green Falcons in Group D

By Ben Somerford and Michel Nasrallah

Australia v Thailand - Alex Brosque, Carl Valeri & Josh Kennedy
Getty Images

PROBABLE LINE-UPS
Saudi Arabia (4-4-2): Al-Otaibi; Al-Zori, Al-Montashari, Hawsawi, Mouath; Al-Musa, Otaif, Kariri, Al-Jassim; Al-Qahtani, Hazazi.

New Saudi coach Frank Rijkaard has already ruffled some feathers by leaving local hero Mohammed Noor out of the squad for these qualifiers and skipper Yasser Al-Qahtani could be the next, after appearing disinterested in the goalless draw against Oman.

Rijkaard already has a problem with Abdullaziz Al-Dosari, arguably the team's best player against Oman, out injured. The Dutchman's options are already depleted somewhat by injuries to defensive duo Abdullah Shuhail and Osama Al-Muwallad, while star Al Hilal midfielder Mohammad Al-Shalhoub could be called upon after warming the pine against the Omanis.

Australia (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Wilkshire, Neill, Ognenovski, Zullo; Emerton, Valeri, Jedinak, McKay; Cahill, Holman.

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck is likely to tinker with his side after an unconvincing display against Thailand where the front duo of Joshua Kennedy and Tim Cahill failed as a combination. Brett Holman may be pushed forward alongside Cahill, or the Everton man may drop into midfield with Josh Kennedy retaining his spot in attack having scored against the Thais.

Mile Jedinak could be preferred in the centre of midfield to Neil Kilkenny, while Matt McKay may get a more advanced role after playing at left-back against the War Elephants but having had a big involvement in both goals. That could see Michael Zullo drafted in at left-back, while Osieck must decide on whether to persist with Matt Spiranovic in defence or recall the more experienced Sasa Ognenovski.


DID YOU KNOW?
  • These two nations have never met in either Fifa World Cup qualifiers or Asian Cup qualifiers before, although their last meeting was at the 1997 Confederations Cup held in Saudi Arabia, which the Green Falcons won 1-0.
  • Australia actually reached the final of the 1997 Confederations Cup, losing 6-0 to Brazil in the decider.
  • In Australia's last two matches on foreign soil they've won 2-1 on both occasions, over Wales and the mighty Germany.
  • The Socceroos didn't concede one goal away from home during the fourth round of 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.
  • In November last year across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia, Australia went down meekly 3-0 to Egypt.
  • New Saudi Arabia coach Frank Rijkaard (pictured right) managed Socceroos pair Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill during a stint at Galatasaray.
  • Saudi Arabia defeated Hong Kong 8-0 on aggregate to reach the third round with Al Shabab striker Nasser Al Shamrani scoring three goals in the tie.
  • The Green Falcons, who reached the 2006 World Cup finals and 2007 Asian Cup final, were bundled out of the 2011 Asian Cup without a point and without a coach after sacking Jose Pereiro mid-tournament.
  • Saudi Arabia won just one of their fourth round 2010 Fifa World Cup qualifiers at home, ultimately costing them an automatic place in the finals.


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