Wed, Aug 31, 8:18pm by Roy Skillen
The 2018 World Cup is sneaking ever closer and the Socceroos are determined to make their fourth-straight appearance at world’s greatest sporting event.
Coach Ange Postecoglou has been known for experimenting with his side ever since he took over in 2013, but with the second stage of World Cup qualification set to kick off against Iraq in Perth on Thursday evening, the former Melbourne Victory boss has avoided making any surprise inclusions in his squad.
Tim Cahill, Matthew Leckie and Robbie Kruse will be given the task of opening up the Iraq defence while Aaron Mooy, Tommy Rogic and Mark Milligan are set to continue their impressive midfield partnership. Rogic and Mooy in particular have impressed this season. Mooy made the big move from Melbourne City to Huddersfield Town in England and has been instrumental in their unbeaten run to the top of the table, while Rogic is now the king pin of the Celtic midfield.
It’s a strong looking line-up, but Postecoglou is under no illusions about the challenge ahead.
“This squad sets us up well for the huge challenge we have ahead over the next 12 months to qualify for the World Cup but importantly it is specific to the first task at hand, which is Iraq in Perth and then the UAE in Abu Dhabi,” Postecoglou said.
“Some of our players have made moves during the off season and I’m pleased that the vast majority will come into the camp with a good pre season and a few meaningful matches under their belt.”
The Socceroos cruised through the opening round of matches winning seven from eight matches and will go in to this fixture as $1.30 favourites with William Hill.
Iraq on the other hand struggled to progress to the second group stage. They finished behind the little football nation, Thailand, and have now failed to win in their last three outings, losing to Uzbekistan and Qatar before a 1-1 draw with Korea DPR stopped the rot. Of course there are no dead certs in the football world, but it really is hard to see Iraq coming out on top with William Hill pricing them out of it at $11.00.
To make the most of your cheeky World Cup bet it might be best staying away from the straight win. First goal scorer is always a good way to go with the Socceroos with top goal scorer Tim Cahill very rarely off the score sheet. If he is fit and ready to go he will start, and against a team as soft in the centre as Iraq the likely hood is that Cahill will be first to hit the back of the net.
The history between the two is in Australia’s favour with five wins and two losses, including the three most recent matches.
Apostolos Giannou $5.00
Tim Cahill $5.00
Nathan Burns $6.00
Matthew Leckie $6.50
Christopher Ikonomidis $7.00
Robbie Kruse $7.00
Tom Rogic $7.00
Aaron Mooy $8.00
Mile Jedinak $8.00
Massimo Luongo $9.50
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