Australia midfielder Luke Wilkshire has labelled the Socceroos first match of their qualification group for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ against Oman as 'vital'.
Tomorrow's match in Muscat marks the start of Australia's participation in the AFC qualifying procedure. With Group B rivals Japan already winning their opening fixture against the same opponents, Wilkshire knows the importance of opening with a win.
"It's vital for us," he said. "It's the first game in the group, which is going to be a tough group, and we know how important it is to get off to a good start. The last thing you want to be doing is chasing."
The 30-year-old Dynamo Moscow star is expecting a difficult match in Oman, with the ultimate goal of reaching the FIFA World Cup in the forefront of the players' minds.
He said: "It's going to be tough, we know it's going to be tough. They've shown us before here that they can give us a really tough game so we're aware of that and we need to be at our best to make sure we get some points.
"It's a major goal, it's our goal, it's everyone's goal (to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup). We all know what's at stake, how important it is, and we know it's something we don't want to miss out on, that's for sure."
Oman are currently bottom of the embryonic group following a 3-0 defeat in Japan next week and a loss at home to Holger Osieck's side would make qualification seem a difficult prospect.
We know how important it is to get off to a good start. The last thing you want to be doing is chasing.
Japan will be looking to build on their impressive display when they welcome Jordan to Saitama. Jordan drew 1-1 with Iraq in their opening fixture and captain Hatem Aqel is hoping the lack of expectations on their shoulders could help Adnan Hamad's side cause an upset.
"Every time we play Japan, we're the underdogs," he said. "But in our last two Asian Cup games we proved that we're more than capable of challenging the champions.
"It's the end of the season for us, and we spent a lot of time travelling after our game against Iraq. People should realise that the qualifiers are a long haul. It comes down to points and, whatever the result against Japan, we'll continue to compete, although obviously we want to come back with the win."
There are also two Group A matches tomorrow with 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar looking to pick up a victory over South Korea after opening their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win in Lebanon last week. Lebanon are also in action and host Uzbekistan, who lost their first game of the group at home to Iran.