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Schwarzer: Qualifying is tough

Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer feels fans underestimate how difficult it is to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.

After their move into the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, Australia had a relatively straightforward path to South Africa in 2010, finishing comfortably on top of their final qualifying group.

Things have not been so easy this time around, with four draws and a loss from their six matches seeing them in third spot in AFC Group B with two games to play on the road to Brazil.

The Socceroos face a clash with Jordan in Melbourne on Tuesday, before finishing their qualification campaign by hosting Iraq in Sydney a week later.

Schwarzer feels people do not give some of the region’s lesser lights enough credit for their performances.

“I don’t think we underestimated anyone,” Schwarzer said, when asked if he was surprised his country was still fighting for a place in Brazil.

“We said it last time round when we qualified for South Africa – I don’t think anyone really understood how difficult it was to actually get through Asia.

“In one way we’re sort of at fault for our own success last time round that we made it look, from a distance, so easy.

“We played Bahrain away (in qualifying for South Africa), and we were terrible – we should have lost the game and we scored in the 93rd minute to win the game. That’s one game that just stands out completely in my mind.
“Playing against ourselves and Japan, for a lot of these teams, is like playing a mini cup final and they want to try and beat us as often as possible.”

Schwarzer said the whole squad is focused on Jordan, with full knowledge of how important a victory will be at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

“We all know what’s obviously riding on these two games,” he said. “We set out, right at the beginning of this camp in particular (to) take each game as it comes.

“We’re in a position, because we didn’t perform as well as we probably should have over the course of the last 12 months in various games.

“The great thing about the situation that we’re in is that it’s in our own hands.”

Schwarzer is on the lookout for a new club after not being offered a new deal by Fulham, but the 40-year-old said he would not contemplate his future until after his international duties are over.

“I haven’t got any plans at the moment at all because my full focus has been on the Socceroos,” he said. “After this is all over with, then I can start to think what I’m going to do with my club.”
Sat 8 June, 2013
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