READY AND WAITING: Jason Geria, of the Melbourne Victory, is one of several players hoping to make their Socceroos’ debut.
READY AND WAITING: Jason Geria, of the Melbourne Victory, is one of several players hoping to make their Socceroos’ debut. TRACEY Nearmyaap Image

Coach Postecoglou ready for battle

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will be taking nothing for granted when his team takes on Tajikistan tonight in Adelaide.

The Aussies are 83 spots higher than their opponents, but Postecoglou said the fact his team was favourite would make it tougher.

"We're Asian champions, so that puts a target on your back," Postecoglou told reporters yesterday.

"They (Tajikistan) will be very competitive. I expect them to sit back and, like most teams that come here, play fairly defensively.

"We have to make sure we don't get frustrated and understand we have to dictate the tempo of the game.

"It would be a great scalp for a country like Tajikistan (to beat Australia).

"We found out with Kyrgyzstan as well, they raise their levels for these games.

"We haven't been together for a while and we're kind of getting into a pretty big year for us and we want to start off the year with some strong performances, beginning with tomorrow night."

Postecoglou, who had all his 23-man squad training together for the first time last night, said he would wait until game day before naming his starting XI.

He said that he had a full squad to choose from and everyone was in with a chance of making the team.

That will raise the hopes of the likes of Jason Geria, Apostolos Giannou and Alex Gersbach, who are looking to make their Socceroos debuts.

"I'll have a look at how everyone is and probably make my decision after today's session and the players won't know until game day," the Socceroos boss said.

"They all seem to be in good condition, I just want to see them out there running around and I'll make the call."

To reach the next stage of qualifying for the World Cup in Russia in 2018, the Socceroos need four points from tonight's clash at the Adelaide Oval and next week's game with second-placed Jordan at Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

Postecoglou said he would not settle for just a win tonight and Tuesday and wants to get to the next stage in style.

"It's not just about qualifying, it's about getting to a World Cup and making an impact," he said.

"It's about performing strongly and setting some really high standards and preparing a team to progress to a level that we haven't before."



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