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Oct 11, 2012

Socceroos ready for Iraq test

Australia will be looking to kick-start their 2014 World Cup Qualifying campaign when they meet Iraq in Doha on Wednesday.

• Osieck keeps the faith

The Socceroos experienced a shock loss to Jordan last time out which left them lying equal last in Group B with just two points, alongside Oman and the Iraqis.

Iraq will be another stern test and have proven to be a stumbling block for the Socceroos following their win over Australia on their way to the 2007 Asian Cup, and their elimination of the Australian's at the quarter final stage of the 2004 Olympics.

The Socceroos will be aiming for all three points on Wednesday with two tough fixtures to follow against Oman, who they shared a 0-0 draw with earlier in the campaign, and then a trip to Japan, to take on the runaway group leaders - where they may just be playing for their World Cup dream if results do not fall their way.

Midfield tyro Mile Jedinak will be hoping his impressive recent run of form for Crystal Palace continues for the national side when they tackle the notoriously tricky Iraqi's.

"They're a very difficult team and they have a lot of games together as a unit. They're almost like a club team in a sense because they have so many caps together, the majority of them. We know we did it last time, in a tough game in the Asian Cup. I think we deservedly won that game and hopefully more of the same will come next Tuesday," said Jedinak.

Jedinak may well find himself partnered alongside Socceroo team-mate, Carl Valeri, with Australia coach Holger Osieck hinting that the Socceroos may adopt a new formation, which may well see Australia adopt the two midfield "screeners" that was common under the regime of former manager, Pim Verbeek.

Valeri who has again experienced a mix run of form at club level said the Socceroos were determined to get their World Cup campaign back on track, and he was expecting yet another tough encounter against Asian opposition.

"I can't remember an easy game against Iraq. I can't remember an easy game in Asia in general but Iraq are definitely one of the toughest opponents we've come across. We're all pretty focused. It's not so much about catching up (with each other) this time. We always like to have a laugh but this time it's more serious. We know what's at stake here," said Valeri.

Another who is looking forward to playing his part in Doha is Tommy Oar, who makes his return to the Socceroos' squad since the 2011 Asian Cup. Oar has earned his place after a solid run of form for Dutch side, Utrecht.

"At Utrecht we play an attacking system and that suits me well. From the left side I can be important with through balls and crosses and in that way I can help the team. My last selection was a long time ago at the Asia Cup in the beginning of 2011, so that's like 18 months.

"Since then I had some time to develop and find my spot at Utrecht. Now that I'm playing better I'm glad they noticed it in Australia as well. I haven't spoken with the manager Holger Osieck yet, but I'm sure we will discuss my role at the Australian team this week," said Oar.

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