Australia goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has called on the experienced players in the Socceroos squad to get their FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaign back on track against Iraq tomorrow. Holger Osieck's men are currently third in Group B with only the top two sides guaranteed a place in Brazil in two years' time.
And with Japan having already established a six-point lead at the top, it is increasingly looking like a four-way fight to grab second spot. The trip to Doha is, therefore, crucial and 40-year-old Schwarzer accepts the old heads in the camp need to do more to ensure a better display to that which saw them lose 2-1 to Jordan in their last qualifier.
He said: "We talked about it at the beginning of the week and also at various points throughout the week (about) how important it is for the older players to step up and not only lift their own performances but also to demand it from the rest of the players in the side as well. I think it has been pretty evident on the training field already."
Schwarzer admitted he was livid in the immediate aftermath of the Jordan game and made his feelings known to his team-mates. "I won't go into any specifics about what was said because I think what was said in the change rooms has to stay in the change rooms, but obviously I wasn't happy and I made sure that everyone was aware of that, that I wasn't happy but also that they shouldn't be happy," he said.
Australia hold a 2-1 record against an Iraq side currently ranked 80th in the world. However, Schwarzer is confident their preparation will stand them in good stead. "It's always been a concern when you don't have a lot of time to prepare for the games," he said.
"This is completely the opposite. We are having a good week to really do a lot of football work on the football pitch. It's been a luxury that we've not had previously and I think, hopefully, it is going to work to our benefit."