Australia face Paraguay for final home game
Australia, under new German coach Holger Osieck, play their final home international ahead of January's Asian Cup when they take on 2010 FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finalists Paraguay in Sydney on Saturday.
The Australians, under Dutch predecessor Pim Verbeek, missed out on the second round at this year's 2010 FIFA World Cup on goal difference to Ghana. Paraguay, meanwhile, were beaten 1-0 by eventual champions Spain in the quarter-finals.
The Socceroos will be without skipper Lucas Neill and possibly Everton midfielder Tim Cahill with injuries, while the Paraguayans will be missing FIFA World Cup stars Oscar Cardozo, Lucas Barrios, Roque Santa Cruz and Nestor Ortigoza.
Australia are unbeaten in two internationals under Osieck, after a scoreless draw with Switzerland in St Gallen and a 2-1 win over Poland in Krakow last month.
Paraguay have had mixed results on their Asian tour, losing 1-0 to Japan in Yokohama and drawing 1-1 with China in Beijing.
Australia are looking to atone for their underwhelming Asian Cup debut at the 2007 tournament in southeast Asia when they venture to Qatar in January. The Socceroos are grouped with India, South Korea and Bahrain.
Brimming with English Premier League stars, Australia lost to Japan on penalties in the 2007 quarter-final in Hanoi. Under the veteran German coach, the Australians are shifting emphasis more to attack than the conservative defensive formation employed by Verbeek.
"He wants us to attack, go forward and make chances," Russia-based defender Luke Wilkshire said, "We did that against Switzerland when we created a lot of chances but unfortunately without scoring."
The spotlight will again be on misfiring Middlesbrough striker Scott McDonald to break his international scoring drought should he play in a likely 4-4-2 formation. McDonald has not scored in 18 internationals.
Paraguay will be spearheaded by striker Nelson Haedo Valdez, who has become newly-promoted Hercules' most expensive signing and began his career in Spain's La Liga with two goals against Barcelona at Camp Nou.