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Jun 8, 2012

Osieck content with a point

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck was content for Australia to take a point away from the sweltering conditions in Muscat.

The thermometer topped 41 degrees at the start of the World Cup qualifying match at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex that ended in a 0-0 draw.

Australia had the better of the chances but Oman captain and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was immense for the hosts and a deserved man of the match.

Socceroos substitute Archie Thompson had three good looks at goal late in the match but was unable to put the ball in the back of the net.

Oman striker Amad Al Hosni troubled Australia's defence and forced a sharp diving save from Australia's goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 56th minute.

"On the road to get a point is okay," Osieck said.

"We came to win, but circumstances made it very difficult to achieve our target.

"It's a point each and it's the first game of the campaign and campaigns have never been decided in the first game. "

Conscious of the harsh conditions, the Socceroos were cautious going forward trying to make sure they did not concede the first goal like in last November's 1-0 loss at the same venue.

This seemed to play into the hands of the energetic home side, which includes part-timers and students, and they enjoyed the opportunity to split points with one of the big fish of Asian soccer.

Australia play group leaders Japan on Tuesday in Brisbane with the reigning Asian champions having made a perfect start to qualification with six points from two matches.

The top two teams from the group progress directly to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Osieck thought it was unfair on his team to start the match at 5pm local time when the afternoon sun still had plenty of kick in it.

"It would have been much easier to delay the kick off one or two hours and that would have been ideal, like now (7pm)," he said.

He thought FIFA should look into it.

"I don't know what the rationale behind that kick-off time was," he said.

"It's already tough enough to play in this area that time of the year, then play in a very inconvenient time ... it's beyond my comprehension."

Al Hosni had the first chance of the match in the tenth minute but directed his header straight at Schwarzer.

David Carney and Carl Valeri called Al Habsi into action with long-range strikes as Australia started to warm their way into the match halfway through the opening half.

The English Premier League shot-stopper did well to get down low to a Valeri shot from 12m out in the 35th minute after being set him up by Harry Kewell.

After conditions cooled during the halftime break, the home team really ramped up the pressure on the tourists.

Al Hosni thought he had put his team ahead in the with a crisp header only for Schwarzer to dive sharply to his left and push the ball to safety.

The Oman forward slapped his arms against the ground in frustration and Schwarzer let rip at his team's defending.

Thompson replaced Kewell in the 59th minute but was unable to find a way past Al Habsi.

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