Socceroos Face Desert Test

Picture: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP
Matt McKay has become a key player for the Socceroos. Picture: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP
Australia  will be looking for its first win in the final phase of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when it meets Iraq  in Doha on Wednesday morning (AEST). After only managing a draw  against both Oman and Japan, the Socceroos slumped to a 2-1  defeat against Jordan to leave them eight points behind Group B leader Japan and its hopes of reaching a third straight World Cup in jeopardy.

Australia hasn’t played a competitive match since that shock result against Jordan a month ago and has made several changes to its squad in an attempt to get back on track. David Carney and Sasa Ognenovski have been dropped while Jason Davidson is out with injury. Carl Valeri, Mark Milligan and Tommy Oar replace that trio and each have claims for a place in the starting side. Matthew Spiranovic is most likely to replace Ognenovski in the centre of the defence, while Valeri could return in central midfield with Matt McKay dropping back to left full back.

Iraq, also with two draws and a loss from their opening three qualifiers, lost an international friendly against Brazil 6-0 on the weekend after coach Zico made six changes from his side’s previous match. He recalled a host of experienced players for the match against Brazil after relying on a relatively young side in Iraq’s brave 1-0 loss in Japan last month and it will be interesting to see what combination is given the job in this all important fixture.

These nations have met on seven occasions, with Australia winning four times with one draw and two wins for Iraq. Although the Socceroos won the most recent clash – a 1-0  extra-time win at the Asian Cup in Doha last January – both of Iraq’s victories have come in important matches. They were 1-0 winners during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and scored a 3-1  success on their way to winning the 2007 Asian Cup.

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