Saudis oil the wheels but Ange is un­moved

The West Australian - - SPORT -

Ange Postecoglou in­sists noth­ing has changed for the Soc­ceroos de­spite the lat­est re­sult in Group B that means they can lock in a spot at next year’s World Cup with vic­tory over Japan tonight.

The United Arab Emi­rates shocked Saudi Ara­bia 2-1 in their qual­i­fier yes­ter­day morn­ing to sim­plify the equa­tion for Aus­tralia as they hunt a fourth suc­ces­sive World Cup berth.

A win over the Samu­rai Blue will seal di­rect qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Soc­ceroos in Rus­sia and turn next week’s clash against Thai­land in Mel­bourne into a cel­e­bra­tory dead rub­ber.

But Postecoglou, who woke in the early hours to watch the match from the team’s ho­tel in Tokyo, said the team’s fo­cus and mind­set has not al­tered.

“While peo­ple are mak­ing a big deal about last night’s re­sult, I can guar­an­tee the boys won’t bat an eye­lid be­cause the mo­ti­va­tion for to­mor­row is the same as it would be re­gard­less of what hap­pened,” Postecoglou said.

“Our goal is to win here ... and win on Tues­day. Our fate’s been in our hands the whole way and it con­tin­ues to be.”

Aus­tralia re­main third in Group B, level on points and goal dif­fer­ence with the sec­ond­placed Saudis, while Japan sit top with a one-point buf­fer ahead of their trip to Jed­dah next week.

Postecoglou has long main­tained he has big­ger goals in mind for the Soc­ceroos than merely qual­i­fy­ing for the World Cup.

“We’ve done that be­fore — not that we take it for granted. It will ob­vi­ously be a big oc­ca­sion should we do it,” he said.

“At the end of the day it’s not about wrap­ping it up.

“It’s about pro­gres­sion as a team. We want to play well to­mor­row night against a dif­fi­cult op­po­nent away from home, per­form well and win the game of foot­ball.”

The Soc­ceroos, who have never won in Japan, were due to get first look at Saitama Sta­dium with a fa­mil­iari­sa­tion ses­sion yes­ter­day.

Striker Tomi Juric’s par­tic­i­pa­tion tonight is in doubt. He sat out train­ing ear­lier in the week af­ter tak­ing a knock while play­ing for FC Luzern on Sun­day night.

But Postecoglou said he was con­fi­dent Juric would be avail­able for se­lec­tion.

He said the rest of the squad was fit and rar­ing to go.

“... I can guar­an­tee the boys won’t bat an eye­lid ... Our goal is to win here ... and win on Tues­day.”

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