Iraq v Australia | Thursday, March 23, 11pm (AEDT), Shahid Dastgerdi Stadium, Iran
This is a very important window coming up for the Socceroos. They started the group so well but the last few results haven’t been what they would have been after.
This is a tough away game with some pressure to go and get the win.
The only advantage for the Socceroos of playing in Iran rather than Iraq is if it has an impact on the expected crowd.
These nations are mad for their football and create an atmosphere you need to be able to handle as a player. If this is missing, it can be a help to us for sure.
I’m happy that new players are being rewarded for form. Form should be the only thing that puts you in contention for national team selection.
The most likely newcomer to see playing time would have to be Sydney FC’s Rhyan Grant.
Been ever-present for Sydney FC and can run all day.
Away from home, he’ll be the type of player and shift needed to get a desired result.
Still a test for some of these players though. Not everybody is suited to international football.
A Socceroo be it Tim Cahill, Mile Jedinak or Aaron Mooy is certainly needed to stand up and make the difference.
That is the mentality that got them the Asian Cup in Australia and that is the mentality needed here to get a result on the road.
The greatest strength is the team and when we focus on individuals is normally when we disappoint.
The game plan the Socceroos adopt will be pretty much the same as we’ve already seen. They’ll want to control the tempo and game for the main parts.
Play the game at a higher speed than what the opponent wants. Take them out of their comfort zone.
This has been harder in recent times for the Socceroos and all teams are showing they can also play a game that has decent possession but threats at goal.
Big moments change games and that’ll be needed again for our boys to get over the line.
KEY BATTLE: Tom Juric v Adnan Syed
Australian flavour from two players who have played in Oz but aren’t here now.
Juric is starting to fulfil his promise and getting amongst the goals in Europe and Adnanwill know all about the Australians after his experience in the A-League.
Juric to be a little too much of a handful for Adnan here.
Iraq have scored five of their six goals in total at home so they’ll see this as their chance for a result, no doubt.
Being neutral may well throw a spanner in the works though.
I expect that Australia should have just enough but not with huge amount of confidence here. A hard fought win I think is on the cards though.
Tip: Australia at $1.75
Correct score: Australia 2-1
Double Chance: Australia and Draw
Total goals: Over 2.5