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Jun 3, 2013

Osieck believes in Socceroos' ability

Go out and believe in yourselves.

Those will be Socceroos coach Holger Osieck's parting words to his team as they depart the dressing-room for a match which will either reignite or douse their flickering World Cup campaign on Tuesday night (AEST).

Australia need a hatful of points from their remaining three World Cup qualifiers, starting against group leaders Japan in Saitama, to secure qualification for Brazil next year.

Japan need only a point against Australia to book their place.

Despite a stuttering campaign, which reached an on-field nadir with a well-below-par 2-2 draw to Oman in Sydney, Osieck is confident his player can do the job as rank underdogs against Asia's No.1 side.

"I am very much convinced of my team. We have a quality group," Osieck said.

While Sasa Ognenovski will start alongside Lucas Neill in the heart of defence, both attacker Alex Brosque and holding midfielder Mile Jedinak remain under injury clouds which will determine the shape of Osieck's starting 11.

Jedinak has an ankle injury that has prevented him from fully training, and Brosque has been battling a groin problem.

Brosque's issue appears more likely to sideline him, which would either mean Josh Kennedy or Tommy Oar slot into the starting line-up.

Without the need to immediately chase the game, Osieck could be tempted to leave Kennedy on the bench, then introduce him with the game in the balance to use his height to torment Japan.

Australian skipper Lucas Neill is among those Socceroos believing they have a mental edge over Japan, which will go a long way to deciding the match.

He also pointed to Japan's inability to beat Australia in normal time since 2001 as proof, though the Blue Samurai did win the 2011 Asian Cup final in extra-time.

"Mentally we know we have a small edge over them. Physically we know we have a small edge over them," Neill said.

"Tactically and on form, they have a small edge on us. It's a very even game ... they haven't beaten us in 90 minutes for a very long time."

Japan, who have been beaten in their past two matches, look certain to start attacker Keisuke Honda despite concerns over a thigh injury.

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