The Qantas Socceroos are ready for the challenge of Iraq and eager to seize the opportunity to take a giant leap towards the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, according to coach Holger Osieck.
Osieck ran the rule over his 22-man squad for the final time at Doha’s Al Arabi Stadium this evening – his final opportunity to do so before kick off at the same venue early on Wednesday morning Australian time.
All members of Australia’s travelling party are fit and available for selection for a match that will go some way towards defining the Qantas Socceroos’ chances of earning a place in Brazil in two years.
“We are one day prior to the very important game versus Iraq and we have been here now for a good week in Qatar,” Osieck said.
“We had excellent conditions here to prepare for the very important game tomorrow and I’m pretty confident that the work of recent days will pay off in the game.”
Coming into the match, the Qantas Socceroos sit two points outside of the two automatic qualification places in Group B with five matches to complete.
With three of those matches taking place in Australia, a positive result against Iraq would be an immeasurable boost for an Australian side banking on finishing its qualification quest with a wet sail.
Despite last month’s set back against Jordan in Amman, the fact remains that the Qantas Socceroos’ fate is in their own hands, with Osieck and his charges potentially five fixtures away from a FIFA World Cup berth.
“In football you never know when your last chance has come,” Osieck said.
“To play in a World Cup, it happens only every four years and four years is a long period in football life, for everybody.
“Now, we are preparing for Brazil and our target is to go to Brazil and we put all our efforts together to achieve our target.”
Qantas Socceroo captain Lucas Neill, one of a handful of current squad members to have appeared at the two most recent FIFA World Cup’s, dismissed suggestions that he and his team-mates are feeling the pressure ahead of tomorrow’s crunch clash.
“It’s a World Cup qualifier, we’re not seeing it as any more pressurised than any other game we’ve played,” Neill said.
“It’s no more special because they’re all special, but, we’ve prepared well, we know what we have to do and we’re now going to let our football do to the rest of the talking.”
The Qantas Socceroos resume their FIFA World Cup qualification campaign against Iraq at Doha’s Al Arabi Stadium at 5.15pm on Tuesday, 16 October (1.15am AEDT, Wednesday, 17 October).
The Qantas Socceroos return to Australia in 2013, for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman at Sydney’s Stadium Australia at 7.30pm, Tuesday, 26 March, followed by Iraq, at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 18 June.
Tickets for both matches at Stadium Australia are on sale now through Ticketek or via phone, 132 849.