The Courier-Mail

Socceroos show focus and no fear after shootouts

- DAVID DAVUTOVIC

SOCCEROOS players have declared it’s “strictly business” ahead of tomorrow night’s World Cup qualifier against Tajikistan, amid civil unrest in the capital Dushanbe.

Coach Ange Postecoglo­u said players and staff were “comfortabl­e” and thus far the schedule had been unhindered, with the squad training last night.

Dushanbe was eerily quiet on Saturday night, as locals and tourists erred on the side of caution, after an incident near the city centre on Friday.

But local sources believe the incident was isolated, with most of the attacks taking place in Vahdat, 22km east of Dushanbe.

At least 22 people, including nine police, have been killed in the past 72 hours amid gunbattles in and around Dushanbe.

Aside from Dushanbe being quieter than usual and a heightened security presence around the Socceroos, players and officials are oblivious to the local battle.

“At the moment everyone’s pretty comfortabl­e, but the reason we get comfort is because we’re well organised and there’s people looking after us,’’ Postecoglo­u said.

“There’s always concern, that’s why we try and prepare for these things really well, we’ve got a fantastic security team that looks after us.

“It’s not just about what they do on the ground here, they’ve done a lot of work prior to us arriving.

“Our security team arrived here three days ago so they’re well aware and everything’s pretty much according to the program we had set out, we haven’t had to change anything yet.

“We’re getting constant updates so if anything does change, we’re ready to go. The main thing is that the players and staff are comfortabl­e with what’s happening and they’re comfortabl­e at the moment.’’

Japan-based striker Nathan Burns said that the players held no fears, and added that Football Federation Australia was diligent when such issues arose.

“I don’t think it’s a big issue for the players. We’re a little bit protected, we’re in a bubble, or maybe we’re just naive,’’ Burns said.

Last night was the first of two sessions for the Socceroos on the artificial surface of the Republic Central Stadium.

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