Socceroo midfielder Mark Milligan says Australia will have to stay disciplined and ruthless as they prepare to face their next FIFA Russia World Cup 2018™ Qualifier on Tuesday night against a relatively unknown opponent in Tajikistan.
After making light work of Bangladesh in Perth on Thursday, the buoyant Socceroos are now bound for Dushanbe where they will play Tajikistan for the first time in their history.
“They [Tajikistan] obviously throw up a lot of different challenges to what we faced last night and probably what we’ve faced before,” Milligan told reporters on Friday.
“It will be different conditions for us. We’ll have to wait until we get over there to see what it’s like.
“It’s [an artificial pitch] and there’s obviously different types of synthetic pitches.
“At the end of the day I don’t think it’s going to change the way we approach the match. We’re still going to go in with the same disciplines and game plans regardless of the surface we’re playing on.”
Ange Postecoglou’s side relished playing in front of their home fans, enjoying the pristine nib surface and comfortable temperatures in the west.
Things will be far less accommodating in Tajikistan, with a much slower pitch and temperatures expected to be close to 30°C come kick-off.
“It’s just another one of the challenges that qualifying through Asia throws up,” Milligan conceded.
“It’s a big trip but we have the best possible medical and fitness staff in place that will have us ready for whatever we face.
“We know it’s going to be a little bit warmer over there and we’ve started preparing for that already.
“…but to start the camp in the way we did was great. We like to be aggressive and I thought we were very disciplined last night which can be hard to do, especially against a team that’s so defensive minded.”
Milligan skippered the Socceroos against Bangladesh, with Postecoglou opting to start talisman Tim Cahill on the bench.
It was put to the ex-Melbourne Victory skipper that perhaps it’s an indication Cahill’s time in the national team could be close to the end, something Milligan doesn’t agree with.
“I don’t think so at all. The squad over the last year has been rotated, he [Postecoglou] picks the team he thinks will go out on the day and do a job for him, that’s all that was last night,” he said.
“Ange has his ways and there’s reasons for everything and it’s not often he gets it wrong.
“I think the depth of the squad at the moment is just reflective of that.”
Milligan was equally emphatic on the performance of Tom Rogic, who was the star in the 5-0 win, bagging two goals in his first Socceroos appearances in 18 months.
“It’s no big surprise really, Tom’s a world-class player,” Milligan said of the 22-year-old Celtic star.
“It’s just good to see him fit and playing regularly at his club and to be back in here also and doing well for us.”
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