Fresh from his eye-catching defensive shift against Iraq on Thursday night, Caltex Socceroos defender Mark Milligan says the UAE will provide even sterner opposition in Abu Dhabi.
Milligan, who plays for UAE club Baniyas in the Arabian Gulf League, knows many of the players he'll face at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in the early hours of Wednesday morning (AEST).
And UAE will be riding high after their upset 2-1 win over Japan, a result that shocked many except those who've followed the development of their football.
After a month in Spain, UAE have gotten off to a fabulous start and they know what it would mean to qualify for Russia 2018.
and Milligan knows the size of the task at hand in what is expected to be in excess of 30 degrees at kick-of in Abu Dhabi.
“They [UAE] are a good squad. They showed that in the Asian Cup and throughout the qualifying so far,” Milligan told Fox Sports.
“They have been together for a long time, they have been building up to this qualification period for quite a while. For the last two months they have been preparing for Japan and for us.
“They are a very well-drilled squad, they have some very good individual players and I think over the last year or two they have come together as a team.
“I think we are going to have to be at our best over there in what will be difficult conditions but it’s as hard for them as it is for us.”
Ange Postecoglou’s side made the ideal start in their quest to get to Russia 2018, seeing off Iraq 2-0 in Perth last Thursday night with goals from Massimo Luongo and the excellent Tomi Juric.
Postecoglou threw up a bit of a surprise before kick-off, naming Milligan – whose played most of his career in midfield - at centre-back alongside Trent Sainsbury ahead of Matthew Spiranovic.
“I don’t mind where I play,” said Milligan, who also played in the heart of defence against England in May.
“I only found out the day before I was playing at the back but that’s enough time to focus.
“And honestly we’re so well drilled in everyone’s position it makes it a lot easier when we do have to move around or swap, even during a game.”
Aussies Abroad: Milligan triumphs in battle of the Aussies, Jeggo suffers defeat in Austria
There were two Caltex Socceroos in action across Europe on Saturday morning (AEDT) as Mark Milligan and Jimmy Jeggo stepped out for Hibernian and Austria Vienna respectively.... Milligan played the full 90 in Scotland as Hibs overcame Dundee in a 4-2 thriller at Dens Park. AUS
Aussies Abroad: Vukovic injured as Genk exit Europa League
It wasn’t a happy night in the UEFA Europa League for Danny Vukovic as he was stretched off in Genk’s 4-1 loss to Slavia Prague on Friday morning (AEDT). AUSSIES ABROAD: Vukovic features in top-two battle NEW DEAL: In-form Vukovic rewarded with contract extension Still sco
When to watch your Caltex Socceroos this weekend
There's plenty for Caltex Socceroos fans to sink their teeth into this weekend with our homegrown heroes gearing up for some massive matches. Mathew Leckie attempts to slay a giant in Germany, two Aussies set aside national team loyalties in Denmark and Aaron Mooy goes on the
In-form Vukovic earns Genk contract extension
Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has been rewarded for his excellent form with a two-season contract extension at Belgian club KRC Genk. The 33-year-old's deal was due to expire at the end of the campaign but the Pro League leaders have taken up their option to extend