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Socceroos eager to secure high-profile friendly in Australia next year

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AMMAN: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou dropped a strong hint that one of the bigger nations of world football could be coming to Australia for an international friendly next year.

In what will be the first of its kind since Postecoglou took charge of the Socceroos in 2013, the Asian Cup-winning coach is lining up a high-profile friendly to harden his squad for the second stage of World Cup qualifiers.

Global outlook: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou wants his side tested by the best.

Global outlook: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou wants his side tested by the best.

 

Speaking ahead of the match against Jordan in Amman on Thursday night (Friday morning AEDT) where Australia can all but seal the passage to their second round with a victory, Postecoglou said he was looking to bring a blockbuster side to Australia in one of next year’s international dates.

“We don’t have a lot of windows but I think there’s a couple next year after the first phase. I’m certainly keen on having a couple of big games [to give us more international experience]. Even at home, a couple of really big games because we know that the second half of qualifying, once we go through we’ll have some big games at home in front of some big crowds,” Postecoglou said.

While the potential opponents are unknown, it could be the first time in six years Australia hosts one of the world’s biggest nations in a friendly game after holding the Netherlands to a goalless draw in Sydney in June 2009. Since then, the highest profile friendly games hosted in Australia have been against Paraguay, Serbia and a half-strength Costa Rica.

The Socceroos have no fixtures set between the end of their current round of qualifiers, which finish in March next year, and the start of the next stage in September. As such, it’s likely such a friendly match will occur at the earliest in the June FIFA international window. However, that could rule out a host of European nations competing in the Euro 2016 championships in France.

Postecoglou is eager to continue building as much international experience in his squad throughout the qualifying process where he is not just content to reach Russia 2018, but make an impact at the tournament.

Australia are on top of their group in their first phase of qualifying after three games before facing their toughest test yet, a road trip to the intimidating venue of Amman.

Despite players stating their concern for a hostile reception, Postecoglou played down the impact of the crowd at the Amman International Stadium.

“Most of these guys have come through some pretty big games over the last 18 to 24 months. Some have played in a World Cup, most have played in an Asian Cup. I doubt a vocal away crowd is going to affect the way they play,” he said.

The Socceroos coach brushed away suggestions he will stick with a similar team as the last two qualifiers against Bangladesh and Tajikistan. “I think that’s where international football will be unique. The last game wasn’t last week, it was a month ago. We watch our guys progress over that month, we’ve seen it in training, we see it in their performances for club sides and we see who’s available. That last line-up is sort of irrelevant for this game,” Postecoglou said.

© 2015 The Sydney Morning Herald | This article was written by Dominic Bossi and first originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 7 October 2015.

 

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