Ange Postecoglou and skipper Mile Jedinak at the press conference ahead of the game against Saudi Arabia.
Ange Postecoglou and skipper Mile Jedinak at the press conference ahead of the game against Saudi Arabia. Daniel Kalisz

Defeat not on the agenda for Socceroos coach

THE Socceroos' clash with Saudi Arabia might be billed as the most important since the Asian Cup, but Ange Postecoglou isn't mulling over the consequences of defeat.

Australia trails the Middle East nation by three points heading into the crunch World Cup Qualifier, but the Socceroos boss' biggest headache appears who to leave out of his XI, particularly in midfield.

While players have arrived in dribs and drabs, with Ryan McGowan only arriving on game eve, players like Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Tomi Juric arrive with the confidence of having played key hands in big matches for their sides as recently as last week.

"They've given me a tough one, we'll see I'll sleep on it tonight,” Postecoglou said.

"I reckon I could come up with 3-4 formations and still look like a genius.”

Watch a replay of the press conference in the video above or scroll down for our live blog.

With Mooy back from suspension, Rogic returning from injury, and only Mark Milligan unavailable for selection, Postecoglou said his XI for Thursday night's game at Adelaide Oval was important not just for this campaign - but a boon for the national side.

"I think its exciting not just for tomorrow, but beyond,” he said.

"That list leaves out guys like Mass (Luongo), Millsy, Mile - all those guys are (with the exception of Millsy and Mile) have their best football ahead of them, they're no where near their peak period.

"When you see that and hopefully they're getting the right encouragement, and stay motivated to improve their football, it's exciting for tomorrow ... and beyond.

"(Trent) Sainsbury, Juric, Brad Smith - all these guys are 23, 24 - we've invested two to three years in them. Over the next few years it'll be exciting to see how they go as footballers.”

Tempers spilled over on the touch line when the Socceroos played in Saudi Arabia last year, with Postecoglou confronting their Dutch boss Bert van Marwijk and his assistant Marc van Bommel.

When asked about the prospect of the Saudis sitting back to frustrate their hosts, Postecoglou was adamant that didn't play a part in his approach.

If he names an attacking XI, it's just "just part of the evolution” he says.

"We've always tried to win games - home, away, World Cup, Asian Cup, World Cup Qualifier - don't think there's ever been a game we just try and get through.

"As the team evolves and players mature it means we become more and more dominant.

"As games become more important that's where you want to see the work come to fruition.

He added: "What we found is its irrelevant who we play - they tend to sit back against us. Japan did it earlier in the qualifying campaign.

"There's a recognition they have no choice to sit back ... that's what they have to do to stop us.

"For us its about our growth and ability to dominate games of football against any opposition ...our focus will be to dominate possession and play the game in the opposition half.”

To do that, he'll need the likes of Mooy, Rogic and Irvine on song, bringing their club form their country's quest.

Join Adam Peacock, Mike Cockerill and Simon Hill to preview the Socceroos' crucial World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia.

"That's definitely a strength of ours developed over last 2.5 years since Asian cup.

"Players like Mooy, Luongo, Rogic, Irvine, Troisi - I'm probably missing a couple - are getting to a stage of their career where they're getting to a level of 10-20 appearances for Australia and when you back that up with experience of Mile, Millsy, we have some real depth there.

"That's the most comforting thing, from my point of view.

"I could put out two formations and be confident in them getting the job done.”

As for the prospect of some gamesmanship, Postecoglou retorted: "I wasn't frustrated (in Saudi Arabia).

"It was out of our control - we try to control the game at our tempo; we try to hurry the game along because it advantages us ... what the opposition do we can't really control.

"It's up to the officials to move things along. From our perspective we know what's in our control.

"We want the game played at a good tempo, quick tempo and work the opposition as hard as possible.”



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