Sainsbury: ‘Battle-hardened’ Caltex Socceroos ready to fight against Honduras
It has shades of Uruguay 2005 about it and defender Trent Sainsbury is confident the Caltex Socceroos are battle-hardened and street-smart enough to get the desired result against Honduras.
The Caltex Socceroos take on Honduras on November 11 (AEDT) in Central America and then back in Sydney on November 15, with the winner of the two legs to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
It’s a high stakes tie for Australia, similar to the scenario 12 years ago, where Guus Hiddink’s men beat Uruguay on penalties to reach Germany 2006.
This Caltex Socceroos squad are well aware of the size of the task but have already come through a rigorous qualification journey so far.
“It’s a massive couple of games with a World Cup spot at stake, so the enormity of this tie has all hands on deck,” Sainsbury said.
“FFA [Football Federation Australia] are working tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure we have the best opportunity to progress.
“The playing group as a whole are confident in our abilities and will back ourselves to beat any nation on any occasion.
“We’ve been through a helluva lot of games and travel, ups and downs, so this makes us battle hardened and ready for the fight.”
Despite not figuring regularly for his Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning, Sainsbury has performed superbly for the national team in the recent qualifiers.
Sainsbury, the bedrock of the Caltex Socceroos defence, was impressed by newcomer Matt Jurman in the tie with Syria, with the pair forming a solid defensive back-three with Milos Degenek.
While having to deal with a direct approach from the Syrians, Sainsbury expects to face a different type of challenge against Honduras.
“Playing many diverse countries brings all types of challenges. We have a great coaching support system behind us players who prepare us for all scenarios of play,” the 25-year-old said.
“Honduras will be physically strong and with some flare players in the final third.
“It’s going to be a very taxing two games but we are up for the challenge.”