Caltex Socceroo Massimo Luongo has arrived in Malaysia on a high after an eye-catching season with QPR though he’s described being part of World Cup playoff as “nerve-wracking”.
The in-form Championship midfielder has featured in playoffs at club level before with former club Swindon Town, but admits when your country’s World Cup aspirations are at stake, playoffs take on a whole new meaning.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” he told reporters in Melaka on Monday.
“It’ll probably be a little bit tense. A little bit more nerve wracking knowing there’s a lot riding on these games.
“We’re not playing for points, you can’t make up the points later on. So it’s do-or-die stuff.”
Luongo has recovered from a recent virus and will be pushing for a spot in Ange Postecoglou’s starting XI at the Hang Jebat Stadium in Melaka.
And with a club manager clearly enjoying the midfielder’s input as part of a three-man midfield at Rangers, Luongo is going into these games with a feel-good factor.
"The kid's getting better and better. I'm delighted for him,” said QPR boss Ian Holloway last month. "If there's a better midfielder in the league at the moment then I'd like to see him."
“He’s backed me, to be fair,” said Luongo when asked about Holloway. "And we’ve got a new style that’s allowing us to dominate games and to be in games for longer. I’m really enjoying the season.”
The Australians began arriving in Melaka on Sunday and today (Monday) and they were greeted by steamy conditions with showers, 25-30 degrees and high humidity.
Thursday’s forecast in Melaka is expected to see a thunderstorm with 77% humidity and a top temperature of 31 degrees.
Luongo added the team will approach Thursday’s first leg World Cup playoff qualifier against Syria like any other game, though he said he knew little about the Syrians. “The analysis will come and we’ll get a good heads up about them and what to expect. But I don’t expect them [Syria] to be as fit as us.”
'He’s got something that a lot of youngsters don’t have': Arnold on Arzani
Celtic is the ideal destination for Daniel Arzani to continue his development, says Caltex Socceroos boss Graham Arnold. The 19-year-old sealed his two-year loan move from Manchester City to the Scottish champions last Friday. It's a huge step for the Iranian-born attacker,
Aussies Abroad: Irvine's brilliant brace for Hull City
Jackson Irvine had only scored two goals in 40 appearances for Hull City before this mornings 3-2 win over Rotherham United. But the Caltex Socceroos’ midfielder blew that record out of the water with a brilliant double in 47 minutes as he inspired the Tigers to their first wi
New dawn, new goal-scoring style says Arnold
Australia coach Graham Arnold has declared his Caltex Socceroos side will look to develop a new style in order to score more goals ahead of the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. It’s something of a new dawn for international football in Australia, with the FIFA World Cup™ in the rear-view m
Caltex Socceroos to face Korea Republic in Brisbane in November
Football Federation Australia (FFA), the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council today announced that the Caltex Socceroos will host Korea Republic in an international friendly match at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday, 17 November 2018. FFA CEO David Gallop was