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.”
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
Aussies Abroad: Vukovic’s Genk beaten in battle of Belgium’s top two
Danny Vukovic’s Genk remain well clear on top of the table despite falling to a rare defeat in Belgium against Club Brugge overnight. In a meeting of the competition’s top two at the Jan Breydel Stadion, Genk were beaten the fired-up home side, going down 3-1. There was lit
Aussies Abroad: Ryan’s Brighton through to Quarter-Finals while Milligan, Giannou pick up strong results
There were a handful of Caltex Socceroos in action on Sunday morning (AEDT) while some key figures were rested as their clubs negotiated cup ties. Firstly to Europe where Mark Milligan played a full 90 at the heart of Hibernian’s midfield as they welcomed new manager Danny Hec
Aussies Abroad: Luongo gallant in Watford defeat
Caltex Socceroos midfielder Massimo Luongo can turn his attention to the EFLChampionship after QPR crashed out of the FA Cup on Saturday morning (AEDT). The 26-year-old played the full 90 minutes in QPR’s 1-0 loss to Watford at Loftus Road, in a tight game where each side cou