Tomi Juric looks set to keep his place for the Socceroos agains the UAE tonight.
Tomi Juric looks set to keep his place for the Socceroos agains the UAE tonight. BEN COONAN

No change for Ange as bid for qualification heats up

FOOTBALL: Ange Postecoglou says he will stick to his guns with his plans for the Socceroos as the bid for World Cup qualification comes to a crunch.

Australia faces a must-win game against the United Arab Emirates in Sydney tonight if it is to stay in touch with Japan and Saudio Arabia at the top of the group.

Four draws in a row heading into this crucial clash at Allianz Stadium has put the Socceroos in real danger of missing automatic qualification for the finals in Russia in 2018.

Postecoglou's team is three points behind group B leaders Japan and Saudi Arabia, who occupy the two automatic qualification places.

Finishing third will force the Socceroos into a playoff against the third-placed team in the other Asian conference group, with the winner of that taking on the team finishing fourth in the Concacaf section for a place in the finals.

After last week's 1-1 draw in Tehran against Iraq Postecoglou was criticised for changing formation into a more attacking one with just three defenders.

The coach said he thrived on the pressure, however, and would stay true to his beliefs going forward.

"We all want to qualify but we're determined on continuing this path to be a certain type of team," he said.

"All of us are behind it. The players embrace it.

"It was always going to come down to these last few games, especially at home.

"It's still in our hands.

"We don't deviate or cower now just because people are anxious about qualifying.

"We're not doing this so we don't qualify. We're doing it so we qualify and hopefully make an impact."

Postecoglou said he understood why fans and punters alike would start worrying about the team not qualifying for Russia but said was not scared of failure.

"For 20 years in coaching what I've been consistent in producing is teams that win things," he said.

"I do it in a certain way. It does get scary. I understand that.

"I'm glad people care and I'm glad people are talking about it. I'm glad people are nervous and anxious and I'm glad they're passionate.

"I'll cop it a bit but we'll see it through. (The pressure) doesn't faze me."

Tom Rogic (injury) and Aaron Mooy (suspension) will miss tonight's clash.

James Troisi, who looked good against Iraq in the 10 minutes he was on the field as a sub, could start in Mooy's place, with Nathan Burns another option.

There has been a call for Tim Cahill to return to the point of attack but Tomi Juric looks like keeping his place.

Trent Sainsbury is set to return in defence, with Brad Smith another possible starter.

Skipper Mile Jedinak said whoever Postecoglou picked it was important the Socceroos got on top of the physical battle against the UAE - something that they lost against Iraq.

"It didn't look the best (against Iraq) and we don't like that," he said.

"It happened. We allowed them too much time.

"I was disappointed as much as anybody after that.

"But you've got to realise what's at stake.

"These countries don't always get opportunities to qualify for World Cups."

News Corp Australia


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