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Apr 2, 2008

Brisbane, Sydney host Socceroo clashes

Brisbane is gearing up to stage its biggest-ever soccer international while Sydney will host the Socceroos' World Cup qualifying blockbuster with China.

Football Federation Australia has scheduled two major announcements in the Queensland and NSW capitals on Friday morning to unveil the venues for Australia's upcoming home qualifiers in June.

The Socceroos hold the outright lead of their group in the initial qualifying stage for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after last week's goalless draw with China.

The Australia-China rematch, the final clash of the group stage, has been slated for June 22 by the Asian Football Conference and will be played at Homebush Bay's ANZ Stadium.

Pim Verbeek's outfit's next match, against Asian champions Iraq, presents as a drought-breaker for Brisbane.

Suncorp Stadium is set to host the tie on June 1 in Brisbane's first fully-fledged international in 10 years and first World Cup qualifier since 1992 when Australia beat Oceania minnow Tahiti 2-0.

A capacity 52,500-crowd is seen as virtual certainty by organisers to support a near full-strength Australian outfit.

The Socceroos' last Brisbane visit for an October 2006 friendly saw a packed house when veteran quartet Tony Vidmar, Stan Lazaridis, Tony Popovic and Zeljko Kalac were treated to an emotional tribute in their international swansongs.

Paraguay crashed the party with a late equaliser for a 1-all draw, courtesy of a Michael Beauchamp own goal, after Popovic broke the stalemate with an 88th-minute header.

Verbeek's hopes of having star midfielder Tim Cahill on hand for his final four group one qualifiers have all but vanished with the Everton midfielder targeting the English pre-season.

Cahill promised on Thursday he would be fit in time for pre-season training with Everton after a broken foot last month ruled him out of the rest of the 2007-08 Premier League.

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