Milligan cautions against complacency, stressing ‘this tie is in the balance’
Key Australian midfielder Mark Milligan has warned about complacency ahead of the Caltex Socceroos’ biggest World Cup qualifier in four years.
On Wednesday night in their second leg World Cup qualifier intercontinental playoff, the Socceroos face Honduras in their final hurdle for a place at the 2018 World Cup.
It's winner takes all at what will be close to a sold out at Stadium Australia.
Australia is, on paper, in a good position heading in to the second leg in Sydney after a 0-0 draw with Honduras on Saturday (AEDT) at the Stadio Olimpico Metropolitano.
“While it was a good performance and a decent result over there [in Honduras] we know that we can’t take anything for granted at all here at home.”
“The tie at the moment is definitely in the balance,” Milligan told reporters on Monday.
And with the Hondurans flying in on a commercial flight arriving a day later than the Australians, who chartered a flight with the latest in recovery techniques for the players, much has been made of how well the Australians have prepared for the deciding second leg.
But in football, things can change very quickly.
An early goal to Los Catrachos, a referee decision that goes against the Socceroos or a red card and this tie can change very quickly.
“We need to start well, we need to control the match," stressed Milligan.
"And that was one of the positives out of the other night, we started extremely well and as the game settled, we continued that momentum.”
Milligan was suspended for the first leg and therefore remained in Australia to prepare. It’s a huge bonus having the Victory star fit and fresh for such a crucial night.
Given skipper Mile Jedinak’s physical condition, two full games over five days across continents may be too much for the Villa star who is only just on the comeback trail after a prolonged injury absence.
Milligan is a strong contender for a starting XI spot as a holding midfielder if Jedinak is rested.
“I’m definitely ready to step in if need be.
"Obviously these next two days are very important so I’m at my very best not just if I need to play but to make sure everybody is prepared well.
“That’s been our strength, it’s not just about 11 players, we’re a real unit and the whole group," said Milligan.
The Socceroos will have their second training session at Stadium Australia on Monday night.
Aussies Abroad weekend preview: Jones targets silverware in KNVB Cup showdown
Caltex Socceroos goalkeeper Brad Jones is 90 minutes away from adding another major trophy to his growing collection of silverware in the Netherlands. His nerves will be shared by his compatriots in the Championship, where two international team-mates are set to go head-to-hea
55 days to go: Dave Harding's FIFA World Cup story
There are fewer than two months until the 2018 FIFA World Cup and, as part of the run-up to Russia, we are profiling every Australian player who's been to the tournament. Today in our countdown is Dave Harding, a midfielder who was part of the history-making 1974 squad. REA
Ryan’s classy gesture for young Brighton fan
Mat Ryan’s generosity knows no bounds with the Caltex Socceroos gloveman making the day of a young Brighton and Hove Albion fan following the clash with Tottenham on Wednesday (AEST). The Aussie shot-stopper spotted a young Seagulls fan in the stands and presented him with his
Aussies Abroad: captain Sainsbury in big clash in Switzerland
Caltex Socceroos defender Trent Sainsbury continues to rack up some crucial game time ahead of the FIFA World Cup, playing another full game for Grasshopper Zurich in Switzerland. Sainsbury, who was captain for the match, was excellent for his side but was unable to help them