No underestimating Iraq says Grella

Socceroos midfielder Vince Grella has no doubts the players from last years Asian Cup have learnt a lot and will be not underestimating Iraq on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium.

Socceroos midfielder Vince Grella has no doubts the players from last years Asian Cup have learnt a lot and will be not underestimating Iraq on Sunday night at Suncorp Stadium.

Thankful the game is going ahead; Grella and the players are looking forward to the challenge of playing the Asian Champions again, but in the comforts of home this time around.

“I think it was a good learning experience,” he said from the team hotel in Brisbane. “Generally we know what we are in for now in Asia; the different style of refereeing; the different pitches and surfaces, which normally in Europe they are quicker, whereas in Asia they are a little slower.”

While not talking revenge of sorts, Grella believes the players have something to prove to a few people and is confident the team will show its true colours on Sunday.

“In soccer it always happens; it-s a funny world that keeps turning,” he said, when it was mentioned how quickly it has come around that we are facing the Iraqi-s again. “Me personally, I-m happy to be involved and looking forward to the game.

“Most of the boys that were in the Asian Cup and didn-t perform to their best are looking forward to these games to show the people, they still playing for the same reasons they played for, before the World Cup.

“Maybe we-ve become more popular and that-s for the passion of playing for the national team and to give Australia the recognition they deserve at international level.”

Grella, who played in that game which Iraq won 3-1 in Bangkok, believes the conditions will be a great leveler and that is a big advantage for Australia and they will certainly not underestimate Iraq.

“With the climate being different, it-s going to make it (Sunday-s match) more even. I also think having played against them and seeing the style that they play can be an advantage to us now.

“Maybe they had seen us play a lot more than we-d seen them play; I wouldn-t say we underestimated them but we didn-t know them enough.”

The Torino player is happy the game is now officially going ahead, ending the on/off dramas that have plagued this fixture for the past week. For that however, he is also confident the team has prepared well and the dramas have not affected the team all.

“I-m happy,” when asked if he was relieved the game was on. “We started preparing for the game and I think all the players want to play; we-ve come here to play; we-ve worked hard in the last couple of days and we-re tapering off now to be ready for Sunday-s game.” So far under Pim Verbeek, Australia is yet to concede a goal in four games, but with incumbent captain Lucas Neill absent for family reasons, the back four is looking a little inexperienced in terms of international appearances.

Asked if he needs to step up in his role as defensively midfielder to help the defence, Grella is confident that if they step up as team then another clean sheet will be on the cards.

“I think the defence has been working reasonably well during the week; they-ll have a tough job like everyone on Sunday. I think the game plan is team defending and that-s always a big advantage and a good balanced team should be able to do that.

“We-ve got experienced players in midfield that understand when the way the game is going and when to speed it up or slow it down. I think Iraq will be pushing for three points, but so are we.”

So how does he rate Australia-s chances on Sunday?

“Very good; I-m not one that likes to sing too much before the game and it won-t be easy, but we are playing to win.”