Socceroos fume over heat, lasers, schedule
The Socceroos have every right to feel hot and bothered before Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against high-flying Japan in Brisbane.
The Australian players must recover from the baking conditions in Friday's 0-0 draw against Oman in Muscat and a rough schedule compared to the Blue Samurai.
If that was not enough, Australia's most-capped player Mark Schwarzer revealed that a spectator flashed a laser beam in his eyes at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
Not for the first time at the venue either.
But first things, first.
Schwarzer described the playing conditions as "ludicrous" in Muscat with the thermometer topping 41 degrees at the time of the 5pm kickoff.
"It is ludicrous that you play at this time of year and at five o'clock in the afternoon and an hour would have made a difference," he said.
"But Oman want to play at that time to try to get as much benefit out of it."
Schwarzer reported the laser beam incident to FIFA match commissioner Sunil Senaweera.
"Every time we come here, the same thing happens," he said.
"So I told the referee (Alireza Faghani) before the game that I was sure it was going to happen.
"He did not believe me because it was daylight. He got it in his face as well and so he recognised it."
As Australia sweated in the Middle East, Asian Cup champions Japan enjoyed a 6-0 romp at home against Jordan to top the group with six points from their opening two matches.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck bemoaned Japan's favourable draw despite Australia having been seeded higher.
"They travel to Australia and they even have a shorter flight than we do going back home," Osieck said.
"There's no time difference for them ... the schedule is definitely in favour of Japan, that's for sure."
Japan plays three qualification matches this month to free them up to play in next year's Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Australia had the better of the chances in Muscat but were foiled on repeated occasions by Oman goalkeeper and man-of-the-match Ali Al Habsi.
Energetic 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 superb diving save from Schwarzer in the 56th minute.
Socceroos captain Lucas Neill said it was a decent point to pick up at the start of the final stage of World Cup qualification.
"I think sitting in the armchair at home you don't have an idea of just how tough it was," he said.
"We will take it."
The top two teams from the group earn direct qualification to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.