Australia were held to a 0-0 draw by Oman as the final phase of their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign got off to a tepid start on Friday.

In sapping afternoon heat at Sultan Qaboos stadium, the Aussies only briefly threatened and they relied on their Premier League goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to prevent defeat to a side ranked 73 places lower.

But Holger Osieck's Socceroos at least come away with a point from Muscat, where they were beaten in the previous qualifying round last November.

Oman forward Amad Al Hosni tested Fulham's Schwarzer with an early header before David Carney warmed the fingertips of another Premier League stopper, Ali Al Habsi, with a long shot at the other end.

The agile Wigan Athletic keeper was then equal to two efforts from Carl Valeri, one from the edge of the box and the second from closer range after the ball was poked into his path by Harry Kewell.

Oman piled forward after the break and Schwarzer was glad to see an instinctive snap volley from Al Hosni curl wide five minutes into the second half.

And the livewire Omani tested the reflexes of the imposing Australian with a close, diving header which Schwarzer saved brilliantly low to his left.

Oman laid siege to the Aussie goal but they almost conceded at the death when substitute Archie Thompson's toe-poke was clawed away by Al Habsi. And the Melbourne Victory man came close with a looping header in injury time.