Poor pitch, small crowd set to disrupt Australia-United Arab Emirates clash
The Socceroos will confront more challenges than they should have to in Tuesday night's World Cup qualifier with the United Arab Emirates.
Home advantage won't count for as much as coach Ange Postecoglou would like.
Postecoglou's squad trained on the Allianz Stadium pitch on Monday afternoon and privately believe it falls short of international standard.
That's bad news for Australia's pass-and-move style which is reliant on a good pitch.
The Socceroos also fear they won't enjoy the sort of frenzied home support they see benefit from on their travels.
Tuesday's fixture has failed to fire the imagination of the Sydney sporting public, with a crowd of less than 25,000 expected for the crucial match-up.
Then there's the opposition.
The U.A.E. are desperate to ensure their World Cup hopes don't end in Sydney.
A win is equally crucial for the visitors, who have struggled to find consistency in their qualifying campaign.
A first-up win in Japan was a fantastic start, but that's been followed with three losses in five matches to leave the Emiratis sitting in fourth place in Group B.
A loss will see the Gulf state four points behind third place with just three matches remaining, all but ending their hopes of reaching Russia in 2018.
Coach Mahdi Ali, who saw his side lose the return fixture to Japan 2-0 last Thursday, said everyone in the U.A.E. camp was aware of how vital the tie with Australia is.
"It is a very important match and we have to play to win. We don't have any alternatives," Ali said.
"A draw ... would make our mission difficult. Our ambition is to do our best to win the match."
The U.A.E. should welcome back Ahmed Khalil for the match after the veteran striker failed a fitness test for the Japan tie.
Tariq Ahmed's return from suspension also strengthens the visiting side.
Ali expects classy playmaker Omar Abdulrahman -- the reigning Asian player of the year -- to lift after a lacklustre showing against the Blue Samurai.
"Sometimes it is not your day," Mahdi Ali said.
"It is very rare that he doesn't have a good game, but I think tomorrow he will make a good game."