Oman - Australia Preview: Socceroos gunning for bright start in Muscat
Holger Osieck's side begin their 2014 World Cup final round qualifying campaign in West Asia against Paul Le Guen's side who were humbled 3-0 in Japan on Sunday
By Ben Somerford
Suhail, Al Maslami, Al Sheiba, Salam
Al Jabri, Mubarak, El Farsi, Ibrahim
North, Neill, Ognenovski, Spiranovic
Wilkshire, Valeri, Bresciano, McKay
There's some positive news for Oman coach Paul Le Guen, who will have midfielders Juma Darwish and Eid Al Farsi available after suspension, while defender Mohammed Al Sheiba, who missed the 3-0 loss to Japan due to injury, should be fit. However Oman are likely to be without winger Ahmed Hadid who is injured and has been training separately from the main group. Veteran Fawzi Bashir is unavailable due to suspension too. Oman are already without regulars Hasan Mudhafar (abdomen) and Hassan Rabea (ankle).
The Socceroos arrived in Muscat on Monday after Saturday's 2-0 friendly loss to Denmark in Copenhagen. However, key attacker Brett Holman hasn't joined up with the squad and will miss the game, after his partner gave birth to their second child. Joshua Kennedy and Carl Valeri have linked up with the camp after club commitments meant they missed the Danish clash and could both push for a start. Coach Holger Osieck has a few dilemmas on the right side with Brett Emerton (ankle) unavailable, which could potentially force a re-shuffle with Rhys Williams, Luke Wilkshire and Jade North in the mix.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- The last time these two sides met it was Oman who took the spoils, claiming a 1-0 victory in Muscat in the third round of qualifying. The result is Australia's last defeat in competitive action.
- These two sides have met regularly in recent times, including in qualifying for the 2011 Asian Cup with the Socceroos edging both matches narrowly, while they drew 1-1 at 2007's event in South-East Asia, with Australia needing an injury-time Tim Cahill goal.
- Oman qualified for the third round of qualifying in 2010, and the second round in 2006. In 2014, they've reached the fourth round.
- The hosts this week signed up Oman Air as their new national team sponsor.
- Australia topped a group featuring Oman, as well as Saudi Arabia and Thailand to reach for the final round of qualifying.
- The Socceroos have been greeted with sweltering conditions in Oman since their arrival, but duo Mark Bresciano and Lucas Neill should be used to it having played their club football in neighbouring UAE this season.
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Top 3 Predictions
Oman 0-2 Australia
- 17.03 %
Oman 1-1 Australia
- 11.46 %
Oman 1-2 Australia
- 10.53 %
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Mar 26, 2013||Australia 2 - Oman 2|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Jun 8, 2012||Oman 0 - Australia 0|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Nov 11, 2011||Oman 1 - Australia 0|
|World Cup Qualifying - Asia (WCQ)||Oct 11, 2011||Australia 3 - Oman 0|
|Asia - Asian Cup (ASIA)||Jul 8, 2007||Australia 1 - Oman 1|
|Nov 19, 2013||Syria 0 - Oman 1||ACQ|
|Oct 15, 2013||Jordan 0 - Oman 0||ACQ|
|Oct 9, 2013||Oman 0 - Mauritania 0||FR|
|Aug 14, 2013||Singapore 0 - Oman 2||ACQ|
|Jun 18, 2013||Jordan 1 - Oman 0||WCQ|
|-||Ali Al Habsi|
|-||Mohammed Al Balushi|
|-||Ahmed Kano Mahaijri||Midfielder|
|-||Mohammed Al Musalami||Midfielder|
|6||Raed Ibrahim Saleh||Midfielder|
|-||Emad Al Hosny|
|15||Ismail Al Ajmi||Striker|
|18||Faiz Al Rashidi||Goalkeeper|
|13||Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini||Defender|
|8||Ali Salim Al Nahar||Defender|
|-||Azan Al Balushi|
|-||Jaber Al Owaisi||Defender|
|9||Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali||Striker|
|-||Ali Al Jabri||Midfielder|
|7||Hussain Al Hadhri||Midfielder|
|-||Mohammed Al Ghassani|
|2||Lucas Edward Neill||Defender|
|3||Mark Daniel Milligan||Defender|
|9||Joshua Blake Kennedy||Striker|
|Ali Al Habsi|
The Wigan goalkeeper is likely to be kept busy by the Socceroos and will be a key player for the hosts. The shot-stopper had a wonderful game against Japan on Sunday, despite conceding three goals.
The reinvigorated midfielder has been like a new signing for Holger Osieck and the Socceroos after re-joining the squad for February's qualifier against Saudi Arabia. Bresciano has creativity and class in midifeld.
Oman may have beaten the Socceroos in the third round of qualifying, but the goal-shy side relied on an early goal on that occasion before shutting up shop and defending their way to victory. Therefore, an early goal will be of utmost importance but Australia have the quality and are unlikely to repeat past mistakes, despite oppressive conditions in Muscat.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed