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Jul 24, 2013

Osieck hoping Socceroos ready for Japan

Australia's lacklustre performance against South Korea has Socceroos coach Holger Osieck asking one question: are they ready for Japan?

The Socceroos take on Japan in Hwaseong on Thursday in their second East Asian Cup clash after opening with a 0-0 draw against hosts South Korea.

The 23-man Socceroos may consist mainly of out-of-season A-League players but a young South Korean side had them completely under siege in Seoul on Saturday night.

Osieck is expecting a similar battle against Japan on Thursday in Hwaseong, about an hour and a half outside Seoul.

And while Australia have only recently met Japan - their 1-1 draw in a World Cup qualifier in Saitama last month - they'll be fielding a very different side.

Like Osieck, Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has also picked an experimental squad made up almost exclusively of J-League players and missing European-based stars such as Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa.

But Osieck is expecting a similar style to what he saw last month.

"The game in Saitama is irrelevant, it's two completely different teams," he said.

"But the general approach of the game, they'll try to play the same set up and style as they always do.

"I think he (Zaccheroni) will play his regular set-up with a back four, two holding guys with three in front of them.

"They play their style, there won't be any surprise. Are we ready? That's my concern. I hope we are ready."

Adding a bit more spice to the clash is that Zaccheroni is on the back foot after the whitewash at the Confederations Cup and having posted just one win in their last seven outings.

His side's 3-3 draw against China on Sunday wouldn't have helped the situation either.

With Zaccheroni and the Japanese side out to prove themselves, Osieck views Thursday as another perfect opportunity to assess his players against a primed opposition.

"It's another good opportunity for me to see some of the guys playing on that demanding level.

"The Korea game definitely took a lot of substance from the players. I have to see how they are."

Some expect Osieck to give most players a run over the three games but he has hinted at fielding the same starting line up he used against South Korea.

With striker Mitchell Duke not getting much time on the ball on Saturday, Osieck has mooted playing him at the point of attack again instead of trialling Tomi Juric.

"We can have fresh legs but what do you get? Fresh legs don't guarantee you more quality," he said.

"In order to get some consolidation why not give Mitch Duke a second run. There's another game coming up."

Both matches in the round-robin tournament so far have ended in draws with all four teams equal on a point each.

Australia play their final game against China in Seoul on Sunday.

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