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Oct 6, 2009

Grella looks ahead to Asian Cup

Australia midfielder Vince Grella has played down the significance of Saturday night's friendly against Holland, declaring the Asian Cup showdown with Oman four days later is of greater importance.

The Australia squad is assembling in Sydney ahead of a two-match schedule that sees them take on the Dutch, ranked number three in the world, at the SFS before travelling to Melbourne to meet Oman on October 14.

Pim Verbeek's men badly need maximum points against the Omanis to prop up a faltering Asian Cup qualifying campaign, which has yielded just one point from two games.

"I wouldn't be getting too carried away with the result, whether it was positive or negative,'' Blackburn midfielder Grella said of the encounter with Holland, who boast Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel and Wesley Sneijder among its galaxy of stars.

"Friendly games are important, but they can be used as tests. The main game for us is [next] Wednesday against Oman. We want to qualify for the Asian Cup and be a force in Asia so for us that becomes an important game.

"They put us under a lot of pressure (the last time the teams played in 2007). It wasn't an easy game and Wednesday won't be an easy game either. We're going to have to prepare well.

"The Dutch game will give us a great warm-up to what we can expect against Oman.''

While the Asian Cup is the immediate focus, next year's World Cup also looms large. Verbeek has indicated the time for experimentation is over and he will now concentrate on forming his strongest line-up heading towards South Africa.

Grella was reluctant to compare where the current Australian side sits nine months out from the World Cup in relation to the all-conquering 2006 squad.

"Comparing teams is not really fair,'' he said. "The previous team had the older, experienced players that had been in the national team for a long time. Now we have a lot of good, young players coming through so they're two different teams.

"I'm not really one for comparing teams but they are two strong teams and we'll see what results we get at the World Cup to see who's better.''

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