One Last Hurdle For Socceroos

Source: AAP/foxsports.com.au
Tim Cahill scored against Oman last week. Source: AAP/foxsports.com.au
Australia  meets Iraq  in its final World Cup qualifier on Tuesday night knowing that a win will see the side qualify for football showpiece event for the third time in succession. Last week’s 4-0  victory over Jordan moved the Socceroos into second place in Group B and within reach of Brazil.

Coach Holger Osieck has named the same starting XI for both of his team’s past two matches and is unlikely to make any changes for what will hopefully be the final game of the qualifying campaign. Although a win will guarantee Australia a place at the World Cup in Brazil next year, they would also progress with a draw  if Oman fails to beat Jordan in Amman on the same night. Australia had no trouble disposing of the Arab nation in Melbourne in its penultimate qualifier last Tuesday, with Mark Bresciano , Tim Cahill , Robbie Kruse  and skipper Lucas Neill  all on the scoresheet against them at Docklands Stadium.

Iraq will be without three of its key players at ANZ Stadium, with leading scorer Younis Mahmoud and Nashat Akram withdrawing from the squad following disagreements with the Iraq Football Association and attacking midfielder Alaa Abdul-Zahra suspended after being sent off in his side’s 1-0 loss to Japan a week ago.

Although last week’s defeat to Japan ensured that Iraq are out of contention for a place at the World Cup, they are still certain to pose a major problem for the Socceroos if history is anything to go by. Since scoring a shock 3-1 victory over the Socceroos at the Asian Cup in 2007, Iraq has also beaten the Socceroos 1-0  in Dubai and lost the other three meetings between the sides by a one goal margin . Australia won 2-1  in Doha earlier during this stage of qualifying.

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