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 By Paul Murphy

Socceroos believe in Postecoglou in World Cup playoff - James Troisi

Midfielder James Troisi has come to the defence of Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou ahead of the Socceroos AFC World Cup playoff against Syria in Malacca, Malaysia, on Thursday.

Postecoglou has come in for a lot of criticism over his insistence on playing a 3-2-4-1 formation, instead of taking a more pragmatic approach to grind out results.

It failed to pay dividends in Japan, where they were soundly beaten 2-0 on Aug. 31. Then, needing an avalanche of goals at home to Thailand on Sept. 5 to grab an automatic place for Russia 2018, the Aussies created an abundance of chances but could only convert two for a 2-1 win, allowing Saudi Arabia to qualify ahead of them on goal difference.

But Melbourne Victory's Troisi backed his boss, and insisted it was the job of the players to get things right on the pitch

"I think it's always been about what we do," Troisi said, as quoted in the Indian Express. "If we're playing the right way, doing the right things, then it's very difficult to beat us.

"Everyone knows Ange, and I don't think we'll change the style or formation. We want to play, he wants to get us to a World Cup in a certain way and change the perception of Australian football and footballers. And I totally agree with him and things need to change in this country."

James Troisi
James Troisi scored the winning goal when Australia defeat South Korea after extra time in the 2015 Asian Cup final.

Troisi and his teammates will be hoping that change begins with overcoming underdogs Syria, who finished third in Group A. After the game on neutral territory in Malaysia, the second leg will be held in Sydney on Oct. 10, with the winners facing another playoff against a CONCACAF team in November.

Troisi, who scored the winning goal in the 2015 Asian Cup final against South Korea, is determined to ensure the Socceroos make the most of their second chance, having qualified for the last three World Cups.

"All credit to [Syria], they are in the position they are," Troisi said. "They have an opportunity, just like us. In saying that, we want to go to the World Cup and we've got a bit of work to do.

"We don't underestimate them. We're in this position because we couldn't get the job done for whatever reason, and we left it in someone else's hands and it didn't work out.

"So now we've got a longer road but we're pretty together and, like I said, we know what we have to do. I'm quietly confident that we'll get the job done."

Bangkok-based Paul Murphy has lived in Asia for a decade, writing for ESPN FC since 2014. He is a former Daily Express sub-editor. @PaulMurphyBKK


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