Preview: Socceroos versus Qatar

The Socceroos will hope to combine their new-found defensive solidity with a cutting edge up front when they tackle Qatar in the early hours of Wednesday morning.


Ange Postecoglou's team kept their first clean sheet for 11 months last time out but couldn't do the business at the other end of the field, as Mathew Leckie, a returning Robbie Kruse and debutant Bernie Ibini failed to breach the United Arab Emirates' defence, resulting in a 0-0 stalemate at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

After the friendly against Qatar, Australia have just one more run-out - a potentially searching encounter with fellow AFC Asian Cup favourites Japan - before the tournament begins on home soil in January.


Ever loyal to his attacking instincts, the boss played down the satisfaction of shutting out the UAE, telling Fox Sports he 'doesn't go home and pop champagne corks over clean sheets'. 

So if the bubbly is to flow in the Postecoglou household on his return to Melbourne, the coach needs to be see his forwards stick the ball in the back of the net. 

Kruse and Ibini can be forgiven for struggling to threaten on Friday, with the former, having recovered from a serious knee injury, making his first international appearance since Ange's debut in the dugout, a 1-0 win over Costa Rica in November 2013.

The Bayer Leverkusen man will be among the goals and assists when he shakes off the rust.

Ibini's situation is more delicate. Not a natural focal point of the attack, the Sydney FC forward is perhaps more comfortable slightly wider, where Kruse and Leckie were deployed against the UAE. 

While he wasn't offered much in the way of service from his attacking colleagues or the Socceroos' midfield, the 22-year-old will need to do more against Qatar to convince Postecoglou he is a better candidate than Adam Taggart or Tomi Juric to serve as Tim Cahill's understudy and eventual successor. 


Nikolai Topor-Stanley

The centre-back was badly missed by Western Sydney as they lost 4-1 away to Melbourne Victory in the opening match of the Hyundai A-League season. 

Adding insult to injury was the fact the 29-year-old didn't get on the pitch against UAE, although he has been earmarked for game-time in the Qatar match. With competition for places at centre-back far stiffer than this time 12 months ago, the Wanderers captain must try and seize his chance.

Brad Smith

The teenager on Liverpool's books added another feather to his cap against UAE, coming off the bench to inject genuine energy and urgency from left midfield. If that cameo was enough to earn himself a start against Qatar, another impressive showing could see him book a spot in the Asian Cup squad, form and fitness at club level permitting.

James Troisi

When he came on in the second half, the Zulte Waregem man was a significant improvement on Massimo Luongo, who struggled to make an impact as the playmaker against UAE. Troisi, introduced at the same time as Smith, tried his best to take a drifting contest by the scruff of the neck and probed the opposition's defence whenever possible. Postecoglou may offer him the chance to audition again for a role as cover to the peerless Mark Bresciano.


Mat Ryan, with the opportunity to keep two successive clean sheets, is likely to keep his place between the sticks, unless Postecoglou opts to reward Adam Federici for regaining his place at Reading from Alex McCarthy.

Jason Davidson, yet to break into the first team at West Bromwich Albion, underwhelmed at times against UAE, finding himself badly out of position in the build-up their best chance, a chipped effort cleared off the line by Alex Wilkinson. Aziz Behich, in form at club level, may be offered a start at left-back. Topor-Stanley could partner Wilkinson at centre-back, with Sainsbury making way. 

Ivan Franjic, a late withdrawal from the UAE game due to illness, could be in line to return at right-back ahead of Josh Brillante. However, having only recently returned from injury, the Torpedo Moscow man will not be risked in gruelling conditions unless he has fully recovered.

Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan will only make way in central midfield, as a holder and link-man respectively, if they require a rest or Postecoglou wants to see James Holland, Brillante or Luongo in those positions. 

Troisi could take over from Luongo as the most advanced of the three, with Bresciano another option, although Postecoglou is well acquainted with what the veteran offers. 

Further forward, Tommy Oar could replace Leckie on the left, while Cahill may start in place of Ibini. Kruse is in need of game-time and will start again if he recovers sufficiently from the hour he played on Saturday morning.  


The 2022 World Cup hosts are ranked 11th in Asia, 96th in the world and go into this game fresh from two successive wins, having smashed Lebanon 5-0 last time out, which followed on from an impressive 3-0 win over Uzbekistan. 

Skipper Meshal Abdulla has only scored four times in 26 appearances for his country, but the striker is in red hot form, with three of those goals coming in his last two matches. More dangerous is naturalised Qatari Sebastian Soria. 

The Uruguayan-born forward has banged in 29 goals in 99 international appearances and is also the scorer of the fastest hat-trick in AFC Champions League history - claiming three goals in a barely believable nine seconds. 


Prior to those two big wins, both of which came at home, Qatar lost 2-0 at home to Peru, drew 0-0 with Morocco and 2-2 against Indonesia. 

Venue: Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Stadium, Doha 

Broadcast details: Wednesday, 15 October - Fox Sports 2, 2.30am (Kick off 3.00am AEDT).