Soc­ceroos hit Syd­ney with the ad­van­tage

The Gympie Times - - LOCAL SPORT - with Rowan Schindler WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is Tom on the money, or do you dis­agree? Email us at ed­i­to­rial@gympi­etimes.com.

AUS­TRALIA sur­vived the trip to Hon­duras but the task is only poised at half-time.

The two-legged play-off be­tween the Soc­ceroos and Hon­duras ended nil-all af­ter the first leg in the Cen­tral Amer­i­can na­tion, and tonight the re­turn leg in Syd­ney will be a do-or-die block­buster.

No goals were scored in Hon­duras and the game at home for Aus­tralia means the Soc­ceroos head into the fi­nal leg as favourites.

The game in the Hon­duran city of San Pe­dro Sula proved Aus­tralia were the bet­ter side on the day, with the Hon­durans sur­pris­ingly un­able to mount any cred­i­ble threat to Mat Ryan’s goal.

A hand­ful of gen­uine chances fell the way of Hon­duras but Aus­tralia’s of­ten crit­i­cised de­fence proved im­pen­e­tra­ble, with Trent Sains­bury mak­ing one last ditch tackle in par­tic­u­lar.

Aus­tralia han­dled the hos­tile at­mos­phere with con­fi­dence and could have eas­ily scored two or three goals if the ball had fallen their way.

Mas­simo Luongo and Tomi Juric both missed chances af­ter the ball bob­bled just as they at­tempted to shoot for goal.

That could say some­thing about the state of the pitch on the day, which, af­ter only half an hour of play, started to re­sem­ble a birth­day cake at an of­fice party – torn apart and in a mess.

In Syd­ney, the field will hope­fully be bet­ter, but in a baf­fling oc­cur­rence, a mon­ster truck event was staged at Sta­dium Aus­tralia three weeks ago.

Foot­ball in Aus­tralia is well versed in the jug­gling of the lack of sta­di­ums and high num­ber of events which im­pact on the play­ing sur­faces.

As any foot­baller will tell you, the state of the field im­pacts the game greatly. The wrong bounce has led to goals in the past, as for­mer Eng­land goal­keeper Paul Robin­son will tell you.

The major plus for the Soc­ceroos is the re­turn of a num­ber of key play­ers.

Rob­bie Kruse re­turns from in­jury and both Matthew Leckie and Mark Mil­li­gan re­turn from sus­pen­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to Sports­bet, the Soc­ceroos are favourites

❝ The major plus for the Soc­ceroos is the re­turn of a num­ber of key play­ers.

to qual­ify for the World Cup Fi­nals.

The on­line book­maker has Ange Postecoglou’s team as the $1.62 favourites to qual­ify fol­low­ing their hard fought 0-0 draw against Hon­duras who are $2.20 to make Rus­sia.

The Soc­ceroos are $1.80 to win the re­turn leg, with the draw pay­ing $3.40 and Hon­duras $4.50 to win the game. “We cre­ated the best chances in tough play­ing con­di­tions so we’re tip­ping we’ll get the job done in front of the home fans, we just have to keep the faith,’’ said sports­bet.com.au’s Will Byrne.

Aus­tralia’s plan, how­ever, does have one Achilles.

In foot­ball, the rules for two-legged play-off games mean the team which scores more away goals wins out in the event of a draw.

So, in lay­man’s terms, if Hon­duras score one goal in Syd­ney tonight, Aus­tralia must score two. The Soc­ceroos must outscore their ri­vals and win the game out­right.

If Aus­tralia play the way they did in Hon­duras, I would bet my money the Soc­ceroos will be book­ing their flights to Rus­sia by this time to­mor­row to­mor­row.

PHOTO: IVAN SEKRETAREV

ADDED STRENGTH: Aus­tralia's Mark Mil­li­gan re­turns to the side af­ter sus­pen­sion and will likely sit along­side cap­tain Mile Je­d­i­nak in the de­fen­sive mid­field po­si­tion.

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