Socceroos prepare for short turnaround
Socceroos prepare for short turnaroundAAP - November 21, 2008
Many Socceroos stars are preparing to play their third match in little more than a week after returning home to European club sides following the lucky escape over Bahrain.
A goal to Mark Bresciano in the dying seconds stole a win the players admitted was undeserved and lucky against a spirited Bahrain outfit, which dominated Wednesday night's match.
The Australians looked lethargic and disjointed at times in a performance that reflected the hectic build up to the match, in which most players only arrived between 72 and 36 hours prior to kickoff after club games last weekend.
Now those stars balancing club and country commitments have a similarly short preparation for this weekend's fixtures with many having to back up for matches on Saturday.
English Premier League player Mark Schwarzer (Fulham) and Richard Garcia (Hull) have matches on Saturday, captain Lucas Neill (West Ham) on Sunday, while Everton star Tim Cahill at least has until Monday to treat his ongoing foot problem before a clash with Wigan.
English Championship contingent David Carney and Mile Sterjovski play Saturday, as do Turkish-based Harry Kewell (Galatasaray) and Bruce Djite (Genclerbirligi), while match winner Bresciano (Palermo) and striker Josh Kennedy have games on Sunday.
The players, though sore and a little sorry, at least return to their clubs knowing they have maintained their perfect start to the final stage of qualification.
Australia have nine points to sit ahead of Japan (seven), Qatar (four), Bahrain and Uzbekistan (both one), with five matches still to play in their group.
Schwarzer said the Socceroos would only get stronger after the Bahrain performance, which served as a reminder that no game in Asian qualifying would be easy.
"I take it as a good sign in hindsight," Schwarzer said.
"We have come away and played probably the worst we have done in a long, long time and still won the game 1-0.
"It's very cruel on Bahrain, but for us we are delighted.
"All along we said we can't take anything for granted.
"Whenever anyone plays against us for them it's like their own little World Cup final.
"We snuck in at the death and I will take that every day.
"To be after three games not to have conceded a goal and be top of the table with nine points, that's absolutely fantastic."
Australia's next qualifying assignment is a daunting one away to Japan in Tokyo on February 11.