We will ignore Syria’s cunning
MILOS Degenek says the Socceroos will concentrate on playing football rather than get involved in Syria’s trickery in Tuesday night’s must-win clash at ANZ Stadium.
The Socceroos chartered a plane back to Sydney immediately following Thursday night’s 1-1 draw in Malaysia and arrived home with plenty of time for recovery.
After being undone by a dubious penalty call in Melaka, Degenek says the players know exactly what to expect from their opponents.
“They’re physical and, as you saw at the start of the game, they tried to play little games by going down and were trying to time-waste straight away, before the game even started,” he said.
“It’s normal, it happens. It’s how they’re trained and what they like to do, but it’s not what we do – we like to play football and get the game moving as fast as possible.
“It’s a fight, that’s how they play. They battle and that’s what you can learn, just be aggressive.”
The Socceroos are still reeling from the contentious penalty, with the referee penalising Mathew Leckie for a legal challenge, which allowed Syria to grab a draw with five minutes remaining.
It’s something Degenek says they will have to put behind them.
“In football you always get tough decisions,” he said.
“Obviously that one is totally different – it’s out of the blue. It’s unfortunate but it happens, it’s just disappointing it happened to us.”
The Socceroos landed in Sydney five hours before Syria, travelling in comfort on a chartered plane which officials hope will give the team a significant advantage on Tuesday night.
They also have their formidable home record behind them – the Socceroos haven’t lost a World Cup qualifying match in Australia since 1981.
If they can get past Syria, the Socceroos are in line for a likely qualifying play-off date with Panama or Honduras.
The United States’ 4-0 pounding of Panama yesterday has smoothed the way for Ange Postecoglou’s men, who will now likely avoid a challenging tie with the Americans for a spot at Russia 2018.
If successful against the Syrians, the Socceroos will meet the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF.
The US win lifted them into third place with 12 points and leaves Panama (10 points) in fourth with one game to play.
The final standings in that group will be confirmed on Wednesday morning.
MAIN MAN: Mark Milligan has taken over the Socceroos captaincy in the absence of Mile Jedinak; (inset) lifting the A-League trophy for Melbourne Victory in 2015; and playing for Australia.