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Tajikistan v Australia: Unrest in Dushanbe not worrying Socceroos

Australia are remaining calm ahead of Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier in Tajikistan as the Central Asian nation struggles with violence in its capital.

Tajikistan’s capital of Dushanbe was marred by armed conflict on Friday, with anti-government militia attacking police and various media outlets reporting up to 17 people, including eight police, were killed.

But the Socceroos seem unfazed in the lead-up to the match.

“I don’t think it’s a big issue for the players. I think we’re a little bit protected; we’re in a bubble or maybe we’re just naïve,” striker Nathan Burns said before Australia departed Dubai en route to Dushanbe.

“We have professional staff, who come over and suss out the hotel and everything, so I think for us, we’re very confident every time and we just get on with business.”

Tuesday’s match will be the Socceroos’ first visit to Tajikistan, with Ange Postecoglou’s squad looking to maintain a perfect start to their Russia 2018 qualifying campaign.

Dushanbe’s Central Republican Stadium has an artificial pitch but Burns reckons it will not be a cause for concern either.

“You get used to them and I don’t think it’ll make too big of a difference,” the FC Tokyo forward said.

Australia cruised past Bangladesh 5-0 on Thursday, while they began their qualifying bid for a fourth straight World Cup appearance with a 2-1 win at Kyrgyzstan in June.

Postecoglou’s side (six points) lead Group B of the Asian Football Confederation’s second round of qualifying ahead of Jordan and Kyrgyzstan (both four).

Tajikistan and Bangladesh (both one) sit fourth and fifth, respectively.

Mukhsin Mukhamadiev’s Tajikistan will have to be wary of Australia’s new-found avenues to goal, with Mathew Leckie ending a 21-game scoring drought when he notched the Socceroos’ opener against Bangladesh.

Tom Rogic (nine games without a goal) and Burns (13) also ended barren runs in Perth.

Tajikistan’s last outing was a 1-1 draw away to Bangladesh in June, while their last game at home ended in a 3-1 loss to Jordan.

Sun 6 Sep, 2015
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