Caltex Socceroos ready for high stakes qualifier: Degenek

Defender Milos Degenek says the Caltex Socceroos are aware of the enormity of Tuesday’s second leg with Syria and feels a big Sydney crowd will keep Australia’s FIFA World Cup dream alive.

After Thursday night’s 1-1 draw against Syria in Malaysia, Ange Postecoglou’s side just need to win in front of an expected huge Stadium Australia crowd to progress to the next phase of qualifying.

It’s down to the make-or-break stage for the Caltex Socceroos and Degenek admits the side is aware of the task ahead.

“We all know what’s at stake,” said the defender outside the team’s base at Homebush on Saturday.

“We know that if we win we still have two more games to go to qualify for a World Cup and that’s what we want to do.

“No one wants to lose here and end the dream there.

“It’s a big boost being at home, in front of our fans, on a normal pitch and in our conditions will give us a big advantage. We’re looking forward to Tuesday night.”

After arriving back from Malaysia on Friday, the Caltex Socceroos focused on recovery on Saturday before returning to the training pitch on Sunday.

Milos Degenek makes a crucial challenge in the first leg.
Milos Degenek makes a crucial challenge to deny a Syria goal in the first leg.

Everyone who played on Thursday night has pulled up well, meaning Postecoglou will have a stack of options when choosing his starting XI for Tuesday.

The likes of Tom Rogic, Tim Cahill, Jackson Irvine and Nikita Rukavytsya will all come into calculations for a start in attack as the Caltex Socceroos look for the goals to progress.

Australia created plenty of chances against Syria – with Tomi Juric hitting the post twice in the second half – while Trent Sainsbury also went close with a header late on.

“You don’t get frustrated [when those chances don’t go in],” Degenek said.

“You wish that they do go in as it makes everything a lot easier, makes you breathe a lot lighter. But that’s football, you saw what happened against Thailand last month as well, we had 40 shots and they don’t go in so you deal with it. 

“You just look for the positives, you keep pushing the boys and hopefully Thursday night, Tomi [Juric] and whoever else plays will score.”