In a rare treat exclusively on the View from Avalon, we have a set of 10 Bold Predictions for one of the matches on the final match day of the fourth round of qualifying in the Asian Zone of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Holger Osieck’s Australia take on Vladimir Petrovic’s Iraq at the world-famous Stadium Australia in Sydney.
In Group C, Iraq have a record of 1-2-4 (five points) and are eliminated from the FIFA World Cup but have a massive chance at playing the spoiler. As for the Socceroos, they have a record of 2-4-1 (10 points) and must earn a victory to qualify for Brazil. At this point, Australia are already assured a place in the Fifth Round of qualifying, which is essentially the third-place playoff. They would be facing Uzbekistan in Group A, which is currently logjammed near the top.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. AEST and will be televised locally by Fox Sports 1. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for this crucial encounter between the Lions of Mesopotamia and the Socceroos.
1. No goals or assists for Iraq
Australia are coming off a breakthrough 4-0 whipping of Jordan at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne last Tuesday and are intent on building on their result by holding Iraq to a similar result. Australia did defeat Iraq earlier in this round by the score of 2-1 at the Grand Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar. There will be no goals or assists from Iraq on Tuesday.
2. Australia will score in the first 20 minutes
Take your pick as to who will score first. The View from Avalon will put its dollars—U.S., that is—on Mark Bresciano. While he only has 13 goals for the Roos, he is a player that can finish. Expect Marco to get the job done in the first 20 minutes of play.
3. Tim Cahill on the loose
The next great legend to don the Green and Gold, Tim Cahill of the New York Red Bulls always takes advantage of an opportunity to show his pedigree and class. He will score late in the first half and add to the advantage for the home side.
4. Big defensive work from Sasa Ognenovski
One of the more consistent defenders for this team is Sasa Ognenovski. Watch for this player to make a number of key tackles and avert any dangers that this Iraqi side tries to pull off.
5. Making waves…Lucas Neill
As the captain, Lucas Neill has one job: to lead his team by example and lead with class. Neill will do that again and score in the second half against Iraq.
6. Archie Thompson joins the party
Alongside Tim Cahill, Archie Thompson will also be tied with Damian Mori for most goals for the Socceroos, and he will do it late in the second half, when the fate of this Australia side is all but sealed.
7. Not a lot of work needed from Mark Schwarzer
The most-capped player in Australian soccer history, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer will not have to do a lot of work this Tuesday night and that’s because Ognenovski and defender Mark Milligan are shouldering the load just like they did in the last match against Jordan. No saves will need to be be made from Schwarzer against Iraq.
8. At least five saves from Noor Sabri
On the other hand, Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri will have his hands full, to say the least. This is a Socceroos team that is desperate to regain its sanity once and for all. Sabri will make at least five saves, but even so, it still make not be enough for Iraq to pull off the upset.
9. At least three yellow cards
This is going to be a match where Australia needs to play a clean game. They do not want to have to play in the third-place playoff, so discipline will be a key factor. As for Iraq, they will through everything at this Socceroos team and they will pay a hefty price. At least three yellow cards will be issued this match, all to Iraq.
10. Welcome back to the show, Australia
Australia, at this point in the qualifying process, is playing with house money. They are a team capable of closing out a run in businesslike fashion. They had shot themselves in the foot with one too manhy draws, but that will all be forgiven on Tuesday night. Holger Osieck’s Socceroos are coming back to the FIFA World Cup, but the road will not have been easy. And perhaps, in hindsight, it was better that this was how it all unfolded for the Green and Gold.
Australia 4, Iraq 0