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WC Qualification Asia

  • February 29, 2012
  • • 09:30
  • • AAMI Park, Melbourne
  • Referee: Dong-Jin Kim
  • • Attendance: 24240

Australia - Saudi Arabia Preview: Pressure heaped on Frank Rijkaard's Green Falcons

Australia - Saudi Arabia Preview: Pressure heaped on Frank Rijkaard's Green Falcons

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It is desperate times for the Dutchman and his side, who need to get a result from a tough trip to Melbourne in order to reach the next round of qualifying


Marrone, Neill, Spiranovic, Carney
Emerton, Bresciano, Milligan, Troisi
Kewell, Brosque

Saudi Arabia
Moad, Hawsawi, Eid, Al Mousa
Al Jassim, Kariri, Al S'houb, Ateef, Al Fraidi
Al Qahtani

With Australia already through to the fourth round of AFC World Cup 2014 qualifying, it is Saudi Arabia who go into the match at Melbourne's AAMI Park the far more desperate side. Green Falcons coach Frank Rijkaard dreams of taking his team to Brazil, but they have a tenuous hold on second in Group D ahead of the final matchday. Oman lurk just one point behind Rijkaard's men and will host bottom-nation Thailand, meaning Saudi Arabia must take their fate into their own hands to guarantee progression.

Not helping Saudi Arabia's chances is the absence of key playmaker Mohammed Noor through injury, though they still boast attacking threats through experienced duo Yasser Al-Qahtani (of United Arab Emirates club Al Ain) and Mohammad Al-Shalhoub (of Al Hilal in his homeland). They also have the level-headed Osama Hawsawi - widely rated as the best defender in the region - marshalling his nation from the back.

The pressure may not be as great for the Socceroos, but coach Holger Osieck has nonetheless demanded a polished performance and stated that places in his squad may be at stake. Mark Bresciano's inclusion after a 20-month absence from his national team leads the names summoned by Osieck, and he will start on Wednesday. A-League-based trio Michael Marrone (Melbourne Heart), Mat Ryan (Central Coast Mariners) and Erik Paartalu (Brisbane Roar) are a chance to earn their first Socceroos caps.

  • Since losing the Asian Cup final to Japan in extra-time in January 2011, Australia has been defeated just once in 10 matches, winning eight of them.
  • Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, have won just two of their last seven matches, though they did thump New Zealand's Under-23 side 6-0 in a friendly on Friday.
  • The two nations have met just five times in history, with Australia edging the win-loss count 3-2.  The Socceroos triumphed when they last met in September 2011, winning the group qualifier 3-1 in Dammam.
  • Once a powerhouse of the region, Saudi Arabia have slipped to 89th in the Fifa rankings.  They were once as high as 21 - in July 2004 - but did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup and bowed out of the 2011 Asian Cup in the group stage.  Australia, meanwhile, are at 22nd and the top-ranked side in the AFC.

  • In Saudi Arabia's favour is Thailand's solid record over Oman in Group D's other qualifier on Wednesday. In five matches, Oman have won two while Thailand have won five. A draw in Oman would most likely suit Saudi Arabia best.

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Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
World Cup Qualifying - Asia ‎(WCQ)‎ Feb 29, 2012 Australia 4 - Saudi Arabia 2
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World Cup Qualifying - Asia ‎(WCQ)‎ Sep 6, 2011 Saudi Arabia 1 - Australia 3
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Last Five Matches
Team News
Available Squads
Players to Watch
Harry Kewell
Harry Kewell
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Kewell has been in blistering form in the A-League with Melbourne Victory for the past few weeks and will hope to replicate that at international level.
Yasser Al Qahtani
Yasser Al Qahtani
Squad Number: 0
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
The UAE-based striker has been a key member in Al Ain's title charge, and having missed the previous encounter between these two sides, could make the difference.
There may be little for the Socceroos to play for and everyone for the Saudi Arabians, but Holger Osieck's men possess plenty of quality and they should still be able to get a win on home turf.
Editor's Prediction

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