Socceroos seeking momentum
The Socceroos can take their first significant stride on the road to the 2014 Brazil World Cup with victory against a desperate Oman side at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night.
After a flawless start to qualifying with wins over Thailand and Saudi Arabia, another three points would all but assure Holger Osieck's side's progress to the final stage of qualifying starting in June.
Taking maximum points from their first three games means only a meltdown of the highest order could prevent Australia achieving a top-two finish in the four-team group, with three games still to play.
Not that Osieck or captain Lucas Neill are counting their chickens against an Oman side that has proved stiff opposition in three previous meetings and one sure to be desperate after managing only a point from their opening two games.
"We're not through to the next round until it's mathematically done," Neill said on Monday.
"We all know that a win would be an important win, but we all respect and follow the theory that no games are easy and we shouldn't think we've won before we've won. That's all we're going to concentrate on and it starts from minute one not minute 90."
Osieck, too, was not willing to look beyond Tuesday's clash, despite knowing another win could allow him some breathing space and flexibility with squad selections for the coming matches.
"First we have to win and it's going to be a very, very tough one and we have to really put a lot of effort into it to make it happen," Osieck said.
"Therefore let's put all our concentration into that and after we see and go from there."
The three previous matches between Australia and Oman have never been decided by more than a goal, with the Socceroos securing two wins in qualifiers in 2009 and salvaging a last-gasp draw 1-1 at the 2007 Asian Cup in Thailand. Osieck insists his side took plenty away from a 5-0 friendly win over Malaysia in Canberra on Friday night, despite suggestions the Asian minnows offered little as warm-up opponents before meeting a much stronger Oman.
The German coach is expected to keep faith with most of the starting line-up from the Malaysia game, with Mile Jedinak likely to come in for Neil Kilkenny in central midfield and a rested Brett Holman starting in place of Alex Brosque. However, Osieck admitted the two-goal performance of former Sydney FC striker Brosque against Malaysia had given him plenty of food for thought.
"He definitely has become a serious option for our team," Osieck said of the Shimzu S-Pulse striker.
Luke Wilkshire will likely start again in midfielder, with Rhys Williams at right back, while in-form Josh Kennedy will lead the line having scored seven goals in his last four international matches.