Sainsbury predicts compact Iraq against Caltex Socceroos

Caltex Socceroo central defender Trent Sainsbury predicts Iraq will be difficult to break down in Thursday night’s World Cup qualifier with Australia.

The two rivals square off at Perth’s Rectangular Stadium on Thursday night in a huge clash to open their group of final phase qualification for the 2018 World Cup.

“They are a tough team to play against. A good core of players and they are probably going to set up to defend against us,” Sainsbury told reporters on Monday in Perth.

"So we’ll have to break them down and do our best to get that goal." 

The Perth-born Socceroo is happy being back in familiar territory of Perth, with friends and family set to support him.

And that familiarity extends to the team where he’s set to play alongside a recognisable face in the Green and Gold.

Trent Sainsbury

“Spira [Matthew Spiranovic] is a great professional and he brings a lot to the team in defence,” said Sainsbury, who played alongside Spiranovic during Australia’s successful Asian Cup campaign of 2015.

Spiranovic hasn’t played for Australia since last year and makes a welcome return to the fold for the next two games, against Iraq then UAE the following Tuesday in Abu Dhabi. 

“He [Spiranovic] a big presence out there and it’ll be good to have him back.

“Me and Bailey [Wright] have gone along pretty well so it just shows the depth of the squad that we have, and having Spira back as well provides a different outlet for us in a defensive area if we need.”

Sainsbury added of Iraq: “ A very tough opponent. First game of the qualifiers to get to Russia, so it’s always important to get off to a good start with three points.

“Definitely in Australia it doesn’t matter who you play, you need to win at home.”