After barely surviving their opening World Cup qualifier against Thailand, the Qantas Socceroos journey to Ad Dammam to take on Saudi Arabia.
Date: Wednesday September 7
Kick-off: 3:30am AEST
Venue: Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium, Ad Dammam
TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 2
Head-to-head Played 2: Wins: Australia 1, Saudi Arabia 1
Previous meeting Saudi Arabia 1, Australia 0, 1997 Confederations Cup, Saudi Arabia, December 1997
Past five matches: Australia: Australia 2, Thailand 1, World Cup qualifier, Brisbane, September 2011 Wales 2, Australia 1, friendly, Cardiff, August 2011 Australia 0, Serbia 0, friendly, Melbourne, June 2011 Australia 3, New Zealand 0, friendly, Adelaide, June 2011 Germany 1, Australia 2, friendly, Moenchengladbach, March 2011
Saudi Arabia: Oman 0, Saudi Arabia 0, World Cup qualifier, Muscat, September 2011 Hong Kong 0, Saudi Arabia 5, World Cup qualifier, Chai Wan, July, 2011 Saudi Arabia 3, Hong Kong 0, World cup qualifier, Ad Dammam, July 2011 Kuwait 1, Saudi Arabia 0, friendly, Amman, July 2011 Jordan 1, Saudi Arabia 1 (Saudi Arabia won 4-3 on penalties), friendly, Amman, July 2011
Analysis: After barely surviving their opening World Cup qualifier against Thailand at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, the Qantas Socceroos journey to Ad Dammam to take on Saudi Arabia - and their Dutch coach Frank Rijkaard - on Tuesday.
Australia were a goal down after 15 minutes, and despite having the lion's share of possession against Thailand, they lacked a cutting edge in the final third until Nagoya Grampus striker Josh Kennedy found a leveler just before the hour mark.
The Qantas Socceroos then had to wait until the 86th minute for substitute Alex Brosque, now plying his trade in the J-League for Shimizu S-Pulse, to secure three points from their first match in World Cup Asian qualifying Group D.
Both goals came about largely due to the industry of midfielder Matt McKay, with Kennedy's goal the result of Thai goalkeeper Sinthaweechai Hathairattanakool failing to hold onto a shot from the former Brisbane Roar skipper, whose cross also created Brosque's late winner.
McKay, who was a standout for the Qantas Socceroos at the Asian Cup in January, recently secured a move to Scottish giants Rangers, and his industry has now seen him become a crucial member of Holger Osieck's starting XI.
There is less certainty regarding the other members of Osieck's midfield, with Carl Valeri and Neil Kilkenny struggling to exert much of an influence against the Thais.
Their form could open the door for Mile Jedinak, now playing for Championship outfit Crystal Palace after two-and-a-half years playing in Turkey.
Rijkaard's squad will be looking to respond from their disappointing 0-0 draw with Oman in their first match, but they will have to do it without defenders Osama Al-Harbi and Abdulla Shuhail who are both out with injury.
The Australians will have to be aware of midfielder Mohammed Al Shalhoub, who's skill and vision could provide headaches, while another influential midfielder - Mohammed Al Shalhoub - is under a fitness cloud heading into the clash.
Finally, the Qantas Socceroos will also have to be prepared for some extreme weather conditions in Ad Dammam, with Tuesday's maximum temperature predicted to be 42C, although things may have cooled a touch by the game's 8.30pm local start time - with the minimum tipped to be 30oC.
Australian squad: Alex Brosque (Shimizu S-Pulse, Japan), Tim Cahill (Everton, England), Nathan Coe (Sonderjysk Elitesport, Denmark), Luke DeVere (Gyeongnam, South Korea), Brett Emerton (Sydney FC, Australia), Adam Federici (Reading, England), Brett Holman (AZ Alkmaar, Netherlands), Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace, England), Josh Kennedy (Nagoya Grampus, Japan), Neil Kilkenny (Bristol City, England), Robbie Kruse (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany), Matt McKay (Rangers, Scotland) Mark Milligan (JEF United, Japan), Lucas Neill (Al-Jazira, UAE), Sasa Ognenovski (Seongham Ilwha Chunma, South Korea), Adam Sarota (Utrecht, Netherlands), Mark Schwarzer (Fulham, England), Matthew Spiranovic (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), James Troisi (Kayserispor, Turkey), Carl Valeri (US Sassuolo Calcio, Italy), Luke Wilkshire (Dinamo Moscow, Russia), Rhys Williams (Middlesbrough, England), Michael Zullo (Utrecht, Netherlands)
Saudi Arabia squad: Waleed Abdullah (Al Shabab), Hassan Al Otaibi (Al Hilal), Hussain Shae'an (Al Shabab), Yasser Al Mosailem (Al Ahli) Abdullah Shuhail (Al Shabab), Osama Hawsawi (Al Hilal), Hamad Al Montashari (Al Ittihad), Hassan Muath (Al Shabab), Majed Al Marshedi (Al Hilal), Abdullah Al Zori (Al Hilal), Osama Al Muwallad (Al Ittihad), Rashed Al Raheeb (Al Ettifaq) Ahmed Otaif (Al Shabab), Mohammad Al Shalhoub (Al Hilal), Moataz Al Musa (Al Ahli), Saud Kariri (Al Ittihad), Taisir Al Jassim (Al Ahli), Ibrahim Ghaleb (Al Nassr), Saud Hamoud (Al Nassr), Yahya Al Shehri (Al Ettifaq), Ahmed Al Fraidi (Al Hilal), Abdullaziz Al Dosari (Al Hilal) Naif Hazazi (Al Ittihad), Yasser Al Qahtani (Al Ain), Nasser Al Shamrani (Al Shabab), Nawaf Al Abed (Al Hilal), Yousef Al Salem (Al Ettifaq), Mohammad Al Sahlawi (Al Nassr)
Aussies Abroad: EFL Cup wrap
It might be early in the English football calendar but with the English Football League Cup commencing this morning, the season’s first silverware is now on the radar for the 92 participating clubs. Several Australian players were in action during a round one that saw multiple
Joeys squad selected for final training camp in Melbourne
Joeys Head Coach Trevor Morgan has named a 26-player squad for a training camp in Melbourne next week (13-19 August) as they prepare for the upcoming AFC U16 Championship in Malaysia which will be held later this year. Morgan is looking forward to working with the players agai
Mixed news for Caltex Socceroos duo in Champions League qualifying
Milos Degenek’s Red Star Belgrade are still alive in their bid to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League, but there was heartbreak for Tom Rogic’s Celtic. After a 1-1 draw at home in the first leg, Celtic lost 2-1 against Greek side AEK Athens on Wednesday morning to
Young Socceroos set for kick off in 2018 SBS Cup
A selection of Australia’s finest U18 footballers commence their 2018 SBS Cup campaign in Japan tomorrow evening. Ante Milicic’s side take on the host nation at Fujieda Stadium at 7.30pm kick off (AEST). AUSSIES ABROAD: Maclaren, Vukovic impress in Europe READ: Why Rene