Australia – Oman Preview: Jedinak out but hosts remain firm favourites


The Socceroos skipper has picked up an ankle injury but Ange Postecoglou’s side will be eager to secure passage from the group as soon as possible.

Australia will be out to build on their stunning Asian Cup opening when they take on a desperate Oman in Sydney on Tuesday.

Ange Postecoglou’s side made a real statement of intent in their Group A opener on Friday, crushing Kuwait 4-1 in a fluent, attacking display that confirmed them as one of the favourites for the title.

But they will be wary of an Oman outfit that pushed South Korea hard before going down 1-0 and Paul Le Guen’s side also have a good recent record against the Socceroos.

Like they did against South Korea, Oman is likely to sit deep and try to hit the Socceroos on the counter-attack, but they also desperately need a win.

Australia have been dealt a blow for the clash with influential skipper Mile Jedinak ruled out with an ankle injury.

The Crystal Palace midfielder is a real leader for the Socceroos and his absence does leave a hole, especially in a new-look midfield.

Mark Milligan is the most likely replacement although veteran Mark Bresciano or youngster Terry Antonis could also be considered for the holding role.

The back four is expected to stay the same although Postecoglou will demand an improvement from set-pieces.

It was that area in which Kuwait looked the most threatening – and scored the opening goal – and with Oman possessing dead-ball talents like Qasim Said and Amad Al Hosni Australia will need to be diligent.

Further forward the Socceroos boss may look to freshen things up with Tommy Oar and Nathan Burns the options, given the huge amount of work the likes of Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie and James Troisi got through on Friday.

Oman will no doubt rely on their defensive solidarity but do have a couple of outlets which the Socceroos will need to shackle.

Eid Mohammed and Raed Ibrahim Saleh provide quality and creativity in the middle of the park.

Le Guen went with Abdulaziz Al Muqbali as the lone striker against South Korea and he is likely to go that way again, but he might partner him with Al Hosni to put pressure on Australia’s inexperienced defence.

There is sure to be a fascinating duel between the Socceroos’ veteran forward Tim Cahill and Oman’s no-nonsense central defence of Jaber Al Owaisi and Ali Al Busaidi.

Cahill’s aerial prowess caused Oman all sorts of problems when the two sides last met in 2013 and the pair will need to find a way to limit the impact of Australia’s greatest goalscorer.

But if there is one thing the Socceroos can take from the opening match it is that they do now look to have options other than Cahill in attack.

The impressive Massimo Luongo and Troisi both got on the scoresheet while Leckie, Kruse, Burns and Tomi Juric were also dangerous against Kuwait.


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