Socceroos to turn up heat on Oman
Having just experienced a massive 50-degree switch of temperature, Socceroos stalwart Luke Wilkshire wants Australia to turn the heat on Oman in Tuesday's World Cup qualifier.
Reliable right-sided defender and midfielder Wilkshire played in hellish 43-degree conditions in Muscat last June when the Socceroos battled their way to a 0-0 draw with Oman.
"It was unbelievably hot that day," recalled Wilkshire, whose 74 Socceroo appearances make him the second-highest capped member of the squad behind acting captain Mark Schwarzer.
Oman can expect milder conditions in Sydney, but Wilkshire stressed Australia still had some advantages.
"They are not used to playing in front of big crowds - their climate is obviously different. The pitch will be different," Wilkshire said.
"They've had to travel all the way here and they are not used to that, so that's the advantage and we've got to make it count."
Wilkshire said the Socceroos were concentrating on getting their own game right, but acknowledged Oman possessed some threats.
"They are dangerous on the break - they've got a couple of quick boys up front. They are always a threat," Wilkshire said.
"On the day, anything is possible with them.
"They are more organised than what they used to be.
"I'm sure they are going to sit back and try and make things difficult for us and then try and hit us on the break."
A regular member of the FK Dinamo Moscow side, Wilkshire is enjoying the change of climate in Sydney after enduring a Russian winter.
"It's about 50 degrees difference, from what I've been used to the last weeks," Wilkshire said.
"It's a bit of a shock to the system - a pleasant shock."
Having played in numerous big games for Australia since his international debut in 2004, Wilkshire is acutely aware of the significance of Tuesday's game.
Just one point separates second-placed Australia from fifth and bottom-placed Jordan in Asia's Group B World Cup qualifying group.
"This is a chance to take a step forward and to break ourselves away from that little pack," Wilkshire said.
"It's a massive game for us. We're four games away from the possibility of qualifying for (the 2014 World Cup finals in) Brazil.
"It doesn't get any bigger than this."