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Emerton: We're in good shape

June 22, 2010

Australia midfielder Brett Emerton does not believe the Socceroos will struggle physically against Serbia on Wednesday.

Brett Emerton
GettyImagesBrett Emerton is confident Australia can clinch improbable qualification for the second round.

• Blog: Plenty left to win and lose

Both Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell have been dismissed so far in the competition, seriously denting their chances of advancing to the knockout stages.

Australia go into the Serbia game needing a win and for either Ghana or Germany to win outright by a big enough margin for the Socceroos to turn around a five-goal difference on the Africans.

It remains a long shot but Emerton is adamant his team-mates will not be lacking physically for their crunch encounter.

"If we can play a game with 11 men, we will probably feel like we're running on air,'' joked Emerton. "I think physically the team's in very good shape, all the boys have worked exceptionally hard coming into this World Cup, so I can't see that being a problem.''

On a psychological level, Emerton said the Socceroos are more motivated than ever having endured two red cards in the two games to date.

"We know we haven't got the rub of the green, which is disappointing, we've played the majority of this World Cup with 10 men so far and both have been very, very harsh red cards,'' he added.

"It's disappointing to lose Harry, but we get Tim back and after our good performance against Ghana, we should go into this match full of confidence.

Emerton said the possibility the Socceroos will need several goals in the match won't dramatically alter how they approach the game.

"We won't go gung-ho, we will still have a strategic plan and obviously, we'll be looking to win the game and hopefully Ghana can come up with an upset against Germany,'' he said.

"I've done the calculations plenty of times. We've all talked about the different scenarios. It's still possible. Germany could beat Ghana by three or four and that means we can beat the Serbs by one or two.

"It's still mathematically possible and we'll give it our best shot. If we get the win, we can walk away with our heads held high.''

Australia captain Lucas Neill has vowed to fight to the end to keep his country's World Cup dream alive.

He said: "It is the biggest game we have played to date and the most important. It is a World Cup game and we are not going to get another chance for four years - if we ever get a chance. It could be the end of the line. We can't take for granted a World Cup so we are going make sure if we go down we go down with a fight.

"We are going to make sure we fight to the very end to give us the opportunity of keeping our dream alive. Then, who knows, we could be here for another one, two or three games. We need a good performance to try to produce what not many people think we can do - to win the game and win it well.

"Fingers crossed that keeps the dream alive.''

Neill is incensed at how his side is now being portrayed in some quarters and mounted a strong defence on behalf of his team-mates. He said: "Every single player went out of that dressing room the other day and took it on the chin. There is nothing we could have done about it.

"My quote was, 'We didn't get decisions going our way'. That is not whingeing. That is just the way it is. Australia has never been a team that whinges, we don't want to be regarded as a team of whingers. You look at how we reacted when we went down to 10 men - we took it on the chin.

"In the end we could have won the game - that is not a team that whinges. A team that whinges is a team that would have conceded a goal, and then lost 3-1 or 4-1 - and then complained to the referee.'' end