Craig Moore’s World Cup Qualifying Preview: Syria v Australia


Syria v Australia | Thursday, October 5, 11.30pm (AEDT), Hang Jebat Stadium, Krubong

It’s a big call to call this two-leg AFC World Cup play-off as the Socceroos’ most important qualifier since Uruguay since 2005.

But with what is at stake and where our game needs to stay, it's certainly up there but not quite at the 2005 level.

That year will always be talked about because of the long wait and the unbelievable circumstances of how we qualified.

The importance of these games and qualifying is crucial for our development and player opportunity. 

Playing at a neutral venue in Malaysia won't be an issue for Australia and the important thing in two-legged football is to make sure you’re in striking range for the second leg.

Our job is to be professional and look to win the game but without leaving the back door open.

An away goal and win puts us in a great position and is key.

Socceroos’ midfielder Mathew Leckie (pictured above) is a different player in club football and has really found his fit. 

In the national team, he’s expected to play slightly different and it’s fair to say it hasn’t always provided best outcomes for both.

He’s tireless however and has quality that can be a game changer and with confidence of good domestic form in Germany, timing is hopefully spot on.

The only thing I’m concerned with tomorrow is that we play with heart and passion and we play with the brain.

Emotions can play a part when so much is at stake and it’s important to stay calm in these situations.

This is a game that will fall into place if we do the basic things well and put in a professional display.

We don’t need a brilliant performance, we need the right performance. 

Syria’s biggest threat is Omar Al Soma who is a towering striker that looks a real handful.

He’s able to hold the ball up and bring teammates into play which can be dangerous and very handy on dead ball situations as well. 

KEY BATTLE: Omar Al Soma v Trent Sainsbury 

This is a game that I’m really nervous about.

Sainsbury (pictured above) has shown he’s a very composed defender but can still make a choice that can be costly.

He got lucky against Thailand with a foul that was a certain penalty.

I do believe he’s improving all the time and if he can find himself a more settled club situation, he has so much to give this national team now and in the future.

Has all the attributes and I do see him playing a big role for our national team moving forward.

Sainsbury showed me during the Asian Cup that he could rise to the occasion and handle the pressure and he’ll need to do this again.

I believe he can, which will see him and hopefully Australia on top in this battle.

The Verdict

I can see Australia winning this game but I don’t think we’ll concede.

The pressure is big and maybe Syria will be emotionally too involved that will bring some uncertain performances and mistakes. 

Unibet Odds: Syria 5.50 Draw 3.40 Australia 1.82

Tip: Australia 

Correct score: Australia 2-1 (9.00)

Total goals: Over 2.5 (2.40)

Double Chance: Australia and Draw (1.17)

Both Teams To Score: Yes (2.12) 

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