FATE IN THEIR HANDS

Aus­tralia know what needs to be done against UAE

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SYD­NEY

UN­DER-PRES­SURE Aus­tralia coach Ange Postecoglou has down­played the sig­nif­i­cance of Tues­day’s World Cup qual­i­fier against United Arab Emi­rates as the Soc­ceroos bat­tle to re­main in con­tention for an au­to­matic berth to Rus­sia in 2018.

Aus­tralia sit third in Group B of Asian qual­i­fy­ing af­ter their 1-1 draw against Iraq, three points adrift of lead­ers Saudi Ara­bia and Ja­pan.

Only the top two are guaranteed qual­i­fi­ca­tion for Rus­sia and with four games re­main­ing, Aus­tralia’s hopes of a fourth straight World Cup ap­pear­ance could hinge on the out­come of the meet­ing at Syd­ney Foot­ball Sta­dium.

“It’s no big­ger than last Thurs­day was,” Postecoglou told reporters yes­ter­day, re­fer­ring to the draw with Iraq in Tehran last week.

“Ob­vi­ously it’s a World Cup qual­i­fier and we’ve kind of set up an en­vi­ron­ment where we pre­pare for each game the same way and this is no dif­fer­ent.

“If we win to­mor­row night, it doesn’t make the Saudi Ara­bia game (on June 8) less im­por­tant, if we don’t win, it doesn’t make it more im­por­tant.

“I think we’re still, in terms of qual­i­fy­ing, where we know that our fate’s in our own hands,” added Postecoglou, whose side have laboured to four con­sec­u­tive draws and strug­gled to score.

“We’ll only start look­ing at other things if that gets out of our con­trol.”

The UAE sit just one point be­hind Aus­tralia af­ter los­ing to Ja­pan last week. The third placed team in each of Asia’s two qual­i­fy­ing groups goes into a play­off.

Vahid Halil­hodzic’s Ja­pan host Thai­land at Saitama Sta­dium and will be ex­pected to col­lect three points, while Bert van Mar­wijk’s Saudi Ara­bia play an Iraq side in Jed­dah that have picked up just four points from their first six games.

In Group A, lead­ers Iran take on a resur­gent China and seek a win that could put Car­los Queiroz and his team just one vic­tory away from se­cur­ing back-to-back ap­pear­ances at the World Cup fi­nals for the first time in the na­tion’s his­tory.

Queiroz’s side are four points clear of sec­ond-placed South Korea, who lost to China last week.

China are fifth on five points and their hopes of qual­i­fy­ing re­main slim.

South Korea will hope to bounce back with vic­tory over fourth-placed Syria, who handed Uzbek­istan a 1-0 de­feat last week to main­tain their am­bi­tions of qual­i­fy­ing for the first time ever.

The third-placed Uzbeks take on lowly 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar and need a win to reignite their chal­lenge which has stalled af­ter start­ing with back-to-back wins. Reuters

Aus­tralia’s Mathew Leckie (sec­ond from right) cel­e­brates with his team­mates af­ter scor­ing against Iraq on Thurs­day.

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