KEY PLAYER: Socceroos captain Lucas Neill training in Melbourne on Monday ahead of tonights Asian Group World Cup qualifier ag
KEY PLAYER: Socceroos captain Lucas Neill training in Melbourne on Monday ahead of tonights Asian Group World Cup qualifier ag

Foster worried about Socceroos preparations


THE Socceroos’ limited preparation and player attitudes are big obstacles in tonight’s World Cup qualifier against Qatar, according to former Australian and Lismore player Craig Foster.

“I’m very concerned, there is a lot of complications surrounding this match, in particular the preparation has been very poor,” Foster told The Northern Star yesterday.

“The first factor is we have a new coach who hasn’t even seen overseas players who are only arriving in some cases the day before the match.

“There is a significant issue on how they’ll pull up. I believe they can do it, but it is a major factor.

“Third is that Qatar have been here for over a week preparing themselves. Our boys are coming from Europe in the cold, to Melbourne where they will play in moderate temperatures.

“I’ll be pleased if they get out of it with a win. I haven’t been this nervous since the match against Uruguay in 2005.”

The Socceroos head into the match without star striker Harry Kewell but Foster believes the team still has the talent to topple Asian minnows Qatar.

However, he said the Europe-based players could not approach the encounter with arrogance.

“I’m concerned about complacency,” he said.

“In the Asian Cup the entire group took an arrogant attitude into the tournament rather than just an optimistic one and that cost them. I saw footage of some of the boys at the airport talking about, not that the team was capable of getting a good result, but by what margin they would win.

“I’m sure coach Pim Verbeek will detect that and stamp it out very quickly. I hope there’s not an attitux dinal hangover from last year’s Asian Cup, where some of the team clearly have a superiority complex where they feel if they play in Europe’s top leagues then they have a divine right to beat these Asian teams.

“Oman should have beat us, Iraq did beat us and Thailand out-played us.”

Foster said tonight’s match was important for setting a platform for Australia’s World Cup qualification campaign.

“I think we’ll win. We’ve got six games (ahead) so it’s not a do or die match, but it is crucial,” he said.

“The away games are in unfamiliar circumstances away from home and the team has struggled at various times in Asia.

“Our home games will be a determinant of whether we get out of the group.”

Qatar will field a team selected mostly from their domestic competition.

“They won the Asian Games in 2006 and they come with a fantastic preparation,” Foster said.

“They are slightly under strength with Sebastian Quintana suspended ... he has a marvellous left foot and is clearly a goal-scoring threat.

“Only a third of the team a Qatar born and the rest are naturalised citizens. They have a couple of Brazilians.

“The situation surrounding the game is far from ideal for Australia.

“If we had the number one team in camp for 10 days and had the best preparation possible, we would be very confident.

“Qatar has been in camp for a month and played three friendlies.

“Many of the Asian countries don’t have the problem where most of their players are based off-shore.

“But with the exception of the top few teams from Asia, we can go into the game confident that we are very capable of getting a result, but the attitude we bring into the game is absolutely critical.”

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