Socceroo Carl Valeri says Australia may need to grind out a win in the blistering heat of Oman in Friday’s World Cup qualifier.
The Socceroos begin the final phase of AFC qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil with a draining match against Oman at the height of the Middle Eastern summer.
Australia, who went down 2-0 in a friendly against Denmark on Saturday, need a good start to the campaign ahead of their crucial showdown with Japan in Brisbane five days later.
Valeri has returned to Holger Osieck’s squad after his Italian club side Sassuolo lost their playoff against Sampdoria to miss out on promotion to Serie A.
The 27-year-old, who scored the equaliser in Sassuolo’s 1-1 second-leg draw, knows conditions in Oman will be significantly more taxing than the European climate.
“You can’t get used to this heat, but it’s hot for them (too),” said Valeri.
“It is 40 degrees, but until you get out and feel it … it is hot.
“The rhythm’s going to be slow. We’ve just got to use our experience and grind out a result.”
Valeri said it was useless even looking ahead to facing Japan, the nation that defeated Australia in the AFC Asian Cup Final last year.
“We’ve really just got to get off to a positive start,” he said.
“It’s probably the most important thing, because getting off to a good start gives you confidence going into the back half of those qualifying games, which are really tough, because they are in and amongst the season.”
Valeri’s team-mate David Carney said the squad were not too disheartened by the friendly loss to Copenhagen, especially as it was the first game Australia has played together as a team since defeating Saudi Arabia in Melbourne last February.
“We had our spells, we had a couple of one-on-ones we could’ve scored, and it could’ve been a different game,” Carney said.
“It was just a friendly, and I think Holger was just getting his balance right for the games.”
“They’re a good team,” he added when asked about Paul Le Guen’s side.
Oman enjoyed a win over Australia during the first phase of AFC World Cup qualifying last November at the same venue for this week’s match, the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.
“They beat us last time 1-0, so it’s going to be difficult, especially in this heat,” he said.
“We have to be smart and control the game and keep possession. I think that’s going to be the key part of the game.
“Japan beat them 3-0 in Japan, so it’s important that we get off to a good start as well and go into the Japan game with confidence in Brisbane.”
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