Analysis: this Caltex Socceroos squad can deal with the pressure
An infusion of attacking thrust, some key returning names and a core of in-form and experienced stars headline Ange Postecoglou’s preliminary 30-man squad named on Wednesday for next month’s crucial FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Honduras.
The Caltex Socceroos must beat the Central Americans over the two-legged Intercontinental Playoff to book their spot at world football’s showpiece event.
It’s no surprise Ange has stuck with the majority of the squad that did the job against Syria earlier this month.
If we learned anything from that make-or-break tie, it’s that this Caltex Socceroos squad can deal with pressure.
The huge challenge of going through the minefield of sudden-death playoff matches shows just what a team is made of.
And the nerve-jangling 3-2 aggregate win – including extra-time in Sydney - showed this Australian side is made of the right stuff.
You only have to look at the reaction after going behind early at Stadium Australia back on October 10.
It could have spelt disaster. It could have had a damaging effect on a team feeling that their World Cup chance was slipping away.
The Caltex Socceroos’ ability to overcome the setback, continue playing their way and ultimately overrun Syria will fill Postecoglou with confidence heading into these games with Honduras.
It’s why the boss has stuck with 22 of the 23 players from those Syria games for this tie.
The additions of young, attack-minded players like Alex Gersbach, Jamie Maclaren, Ajdin Hrustic and Awer Mabil gives Postecoglou plenty of options when looking for crucial goals in the make-or-break qualifiers.
With away goals counting double if scores are level after the two-legs, hopefully Australia can get on the scoreboard in the first leg to make things easier in Sydney.
With the likes of Aaron Mooy, Mat Ryan, Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic in excellent form, and the possible return of skipper Mile Jedinak, the Caltex Socceroos have every right to go into these games in a confident mood.
Stadium Australia has been the scene of so many memorable and successful nights for Australian football, let’s hope we can add another one on November 15.
It promises to be tight, it is likely to be tense and you can sure it will be just as dramatic as we’ve seen in the past.
But one thing is sure; this team will have no fear and will embrace the pressure.