Qatar's new coach Bruno Metsu believes that complacency might be Australia's undoing in their Asian Zone 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier tomorrow.
Coach Pim Verbeek's main task will be to keep his Australian players from under-estimating tiny Qatar after beating them 3-0 and 3-1 in a previous stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying earlier this year. Frenchman Metsu has a proven record for upsetting fancied rivals, having steered Senegal to a 1-0 win over defending champions France to open the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals in Korea and Japan on the way to an unlikely quarter-final appearance.
The Socceroos, ranked 34 to Qatar's 78, are bolstered by the return of goal-poaching Everton midfielder Tim Cahill from a long-term foot injury and the likely recall of seasoned defender Craig Moore. Metsu, who has only been in charge of the Qataris since late last month, warned Australia that his team are poised for a major surprise.
"Sometimes it's important in football (to have) respect. Maybe in their mind, it is an easy game for Australia tomorrow," Metsu told reporters. "Maybe this is good for us. But we have worked very well for this game in the last eight days. Maybe we try to prepare a surprise. It's very difficult, very tough. But I believe in my players."
Verbeek said he was not expecting his players to underestimate Qatar. "I will be very surprised if that happens," he said Tuesday. ". It's good that we know we can beat them, that's good for our confidence and probably they will think of it the other way around."
If that does happen then I have only to blame myself but we know what we have to do and we know they are dangerous, so we should never think that this is an easy game
Metsu, 54, has had his squad preparing here for more than a week ahead of the match and admits he has been dreaming of taking the Socceroos down a peg. "I'm ready in my mind because I take this job and I know the first game is Australia. I sleep Australia, I dream Australia. Night and day, I think about Australia," he said. "It is the same as when France play Senegal. In my mind I think every day and every night about this game."
Qatar lead Asian Group A on four points, one point ahead of the Australians, who have played one game less. Qatar beat Uzbekistan 3-0 and drew 1-1 with Bahrain, both at home, but this is their first away match in the final group phase, while the Australians opened with a valuable 1-0 win over Uzbekistan in Tashkent last month.
Metsu is confident he can use his experience to guide the oil-rich Gulf state to its first FIFA World Cup finals. "Sure, Japan and Australia are favourites... but today we are the first position. Not Australia, not Japan, but Qatar. Qatar is a small country, not many players, it is a huge dream for Qatar to go to the World Cup."