Analysis: 3 keys to Caltex Socceroos success in Honduras
The Caltex Socceroos will be looking to bring a positive result back from San Pedro Sula in the first leg of the winner-takes-all World Cup play-off against Honduras.
We’ve picked out three keys to getting the job done ahead of the second leg in Sydney.
SEIZING THE INITIATIVE
Never one to take a backwards step, you can bank on Ange Postecoglou instructing his players to get on the front foot in San Pedro Sula.
The hosts have not kept a clean sheet in five matches and extending that to six at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano would land a significant psychological blow.
Tomi Juric is likely to shoulder much of the goalscoring responsibility as Mat Leckie and Robbie Kruse miss the first leg due to suspension and injury respectively.
And with the 26-year-old Juric on target in two his past three club outings, Postecoglou’s men have enough firepower to forget about retreating into their shells.
Aaron Mooy is expected to regain his starting spot after proving influential in the second leg against Syria.
The real conundrum lies around replacing the suspended Mark Milligan.
Mile Jedinak has stepped up his return from injury at Aston Villa and would be a natural fit.
Always unflustered, the skipper embodies the kind of steel required to thrive under pressure.
But any concerns over his ability to last the distance may see a recall for an in-form QPR skipper Massimo Luongo, who capped a superb month by being shortlisted for the PFA’s Player of the Month award.
Whoever gets the nod will need to be tigerish in the tackle - but smart - and positionally aware to help win the midfield middle.
MANNING THE CHANNELS
Milos Degenek and Matt Jurman appear on course to retain their places either side of Trent Sainsbury in the three-man defence.
The pair must be alert to nullify Honduras’ hard-running wide men, who profited from the spaces between defender and full-back against both the USA and Mexico in the latter stages of CONCACAF qualifying.
Mature performances from these two will go a long way to keeping the match under control.