Abu Dhabi: Mile Jedinak, the Australia captain, has warned the UAE to be braced for an intense physical battle in Tuesday’s crucial 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Sydney.
The encounter has assumed must-win status for both sides, after Australia were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw in Iraq on Thursday while the UAE lost 2-0 to Japan in Al Ain.
Australia lie third in Group B on 10 points, one ahead of fourth-place UAE but three behind joint leaders Saudi Arabia and Japan, with only two teams guaranteed to reach Russia 2018.
As such, Jedinak has promised the Socceroos will be at their belligerent best for the do-or-die clash in Sydney after failing to match Iraq’s direct and uncompromising approach.
“We’ve got to take responsibility for [being outmuscled against Iraq], and I do myself,” he said. “Especially with the way we set out; we knew that a physical test would more than likely happen.
“We as a group, and me as the captain of the team, take responsibility for that. It caused us more problems than it should have done, no doubt about that. But in saying that we had a couple of chances, we did impose ourselves on the game at times and it wasn’t entirely physical.
“But that was a large component, and we’ll have to address it and move forward and be far more physical against the UAE.”
Meanwhile, the Australia coach Ange Postecoglou accentuated the positives of the draw in Tehran, where Ahmad Yasin’s equaliser cancelled out Mathew Leckie’s first-half header.
“We’re still in a good position — we’ve played four away games now, we only have one more and the rest are at home,” he said. “Saudi and UAE both have to come to Australia and if Iraq keep performing like this, they’ll take points off teams as well.”