Despite maintaining a perfect record after three 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers, Australia have set their sights on further improvement over the course of the campaign.
Australia saw off Oman 3-0 on Tuesday in Sydney with a confident performance which belied three previous matches against the same opponent over the past four years, resulting in two single-goal wins for the Socceroos and a draw.
The match was also marked by a line-up that has changed significantly since the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Missing were long-serving players such as Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton, who were absent for a variety of reasons.
The regeneration of the Australian team under Holger Osieck has been highly successful to date, with the Socceroos suffering just one loss in their last 15 outings.
Victory in Oman next month will see Australia book progression to the fourth and final stage of Asian qualifying with two matches to spare.
“We want to go through the qualification phase with maximum points and keep building on our performances,” midfielder Mile Jedinak told FIFA.com.
“We want the best out of each other and we push each other to the maximum. I think that will continue and with that will come more assured and better football.
An early goal from Brett Holman settled nerves for the home side on Tuesday, with second-half strikes from Josh Kennedy and Jedinak completing the scoring.
It was the nature of the performance, as much as the result, which left Osieck in a satisfied mood post-match. “The boys know the direction and we still have to gain a couple of points to ensure we qualify for the next round," said Osieck.
"We are in a good way, we are a good passing team and that's what I like to see and if we carry on that way we will still raise our level of play and that is my target. I think what we did well was that even under pressure we tried to play out.
"There was always kind of triangle play, there was always opportunity to play the ball up and the guy who received the ball had the game in front of them so we could pass from there. The passing was pretty accurate, pretty crisp and that's what I want to see."
The team’s recent success has coincided with the prolific form in front of goal for the Japan-based Kennedy. A close-range finish against Oman means the beanpole striker has now bagged eight goals in his last five international matches. Kennedy, currently top goalscorer in the J.League, is enjoying a fruitful combination alongside Holman with the AZ Alkmaar attacker providing an assist for his colleague in each of the last two matches.
Kennedy concurs with Osieck’s view that the team’s passing style of the team is a key reason behind the team’s development. "The way we play in Japan (at Nagoya Grampus Eight), knocking the ball around, and the way Holger wants to play, with support up front and playing football and keeping possession, it all adds up," said Kennedy. "It makes a huge difference all around the park, not just up front.
"We're in a great position, so hopefully we finish it off in November," said the in-form attacker. "That's definitely the goal. We're scoring plenty of goals, so there's no reason we can't.”