Caltex Socceroos midfielder Mark Milligan has called on Ange Postecoglou's squad to hit the ground running in their World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and United Arab Emirates.
Australia will host Iraq in Perth on Thursday before heading to the UAE for another match on September 6 as the third round of the Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) qualifying for Russia 2018 gets underway.
With the top two teams in Group B set to qualify automatically for the World Cup, Milligan is desperate for the Socceroos to get as many points as possible before they host regular adversaries Japan in their fourth match on October 11.
That game will be preceded by a trip to Saudi Arabia on October 6.
"The first three games are extremely important for us," Milligan told Goal Australia last month.
"If we start well - especially those first two, the one in Perth and then away in the UAE - if we start well, then obviously there'll be quite a bit of buzz around the Japan game in Melbourne at Etihad."
Having made his Socceroos debut a decade ago, Milligan has seen the ups and downs of Australia's move into the AFC.
The 31-year-old, who now plays for Baniyas in the UAE's Arabian Gulf League, is well aware of how tough Australia's task will be to qualify for Russia 2018 as they face three trips to the Middle East.
"It's a very tough group and it'll be a very good challenge for us," Milligan said.
"Historically, over the last few qualifying campaigns, nothing tends to go smoothly.
"You know, there's always hiccups, but hopefully we can come in, we can start well and that'll put us in good stead come early next year."
Australia are looking to qualify for their fourth consecutive World Cup, with Milligan and Tim Cahill the only two players in the current squad to have been taken to the past three tournaments.
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