Australia v Iraq | Thursday, September 1, 8.30pm (AEDT), NIB Stadium, Perth
The Socceroos’ qualifying group of Iraq, Japan, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Thailand isn’t an easy one and this group can be very difficult if you get off to a slow start.
The most important thing for the Socceroos it to get off to strong start.
Travel can be an issue for future group games but our boys have been doing it for years and we’re better travellers than any other team and that will hold us in good stead.
Getting off to a winning start against Iraq is crucial and all home games must be wins if we are to be serious in what we wish to achieve.
This should be an attitude and I’m sure the team will be up for this and start in the best possible way.
In terms of our form, we’re very well placed. In our first phase of qualifying we did what was needed but we’ll need to step it up in the next phase.
The pleasing thing for Ange is many are playing regular football now and that will be a big benefit to this team and their success.
Iraq have had great games against Australia at all levels. They’re fiercely competitive and have technically gifted players in forward and wide areas.
The Socceroos can exploit them through constant pressure and not allowing them to settle.
We can then create chances and they’ll make mistakes. It’s important we don’t let teams settle in Australia which we normally do very well.
The likes of Jedinak, Cahill, Rogic and Mooy will contribute in their own way but this team and many before it are built around the team.
Media will mention names but I know in-house that the success and name attached to it will be a Socceroo.
Ange has pushed really hard on working as a team and individuals play a role in it but the team always comes first.
Our game is always an aggressive one in which we want to dominate and play at a high intensity.
Can Iraq match that and weather the attacks that will come at them? If they can, they’ll no doubts have their moments.
We’ll want to make sure the game flows and if it does, then we’ll be winning this game.
Socceroos to win this game.
Our home record is terrific at every level and after a disappointing home friendly against Greece, the boys will be hungry to start this phase of qualification with a bang.
Tip: Australia $1.26
Total goals: Under 2.5
Double chance: Australia and Draw
Correct score: Australia 2-0