Australia-Iraq World Cup Qualifier Preview

The Socceroos must win to keep on track for a Brazil 2014 spot.

Robert Whiteby Robert White

Ahead of another vital World Cup qualifier against Iraq on Wednesday, Australia’s Socceroos coach Holger Osieck may have to turn to some of his younger players to provide the punch.

Veterans Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill and Mark Schwarzer remain in the side after two straight World Cup final appearances, but there is a healthy mix of talent finally emerging.

The young Socceroos are each playing vital roles in Europe. James Holland (23) plays for Austria Viennna, Robbie Kruse (24) is with German club with Fortuna Dusseldorf, Ryan McGowan is in Scotland with Hearts, Tommy Oar (20) and especially Adam Sarota (23) are starring in The Netherlands FC Utrecht. The hope isone or two of them break out to be a next generation star able to carry the national side along when the old heads hang up the boots.

The shock loss to Jordan last month means a win against Iraq is necessary. If they lose a third successive World Cup final appearance may slip out of reach.

Australia comes into the game as favourites, but they are yet to win away from home against Iraq in their last three attempts.

The Socceroos have been in Doha preparing for the match and landed in Iraq on Friday. Meanwhile, Iraq used their time to travel to Europe to take on five-time World Champions Brazil in a friendly match in Sweden on Thursday night.

The result ended up being a bit of a blowout, Brazil won 6-0 with star midfielder Kaka kicking a goal his first appearance for his nation since the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, but it may have done wonders for the Iraqis preparation ahead of the Australia clash.

The Socceroos find themselves third in their qualification group with five games remaining. A top two spot is needed to play in Brazil in 2014, however finishing third will still give them a chance at two sudden-death playoff games.

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