Mountain to climb for Socceroos | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 23, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 23, 2010

South Africa 2010 FIFA World CupPreview

Mountain to climb for Socceroos


Australia have the odds stacked against them as they bid to get past Serbia here Wednesday and hang on the Germany-Ghana result if they are to progress to the last 16 at the World Cup.
Australia, trailing in Group D with just one point, need to beat the Serbians and hope either group leaders Ghana win by any margin or Germany hammer the Ghanaians in the simultaneous match in Johannesburg.
It looks a tall order for the embattled Socceroos, who have won only one of their overall nine World Cup games and find scoring goals difficult.
Australian bookmakers rate Serbia 5-6 odds-on favourites with the Socceroos at 3-1 to win Wednesday's match at Mbombela Stadium with the Aussies listed at 10-1 to reach the last 16.
Apart from their fate being outside their control, the Aussies will also be without suspended senior players, Harry Kewell and Craig Moore, but on the plus side they will welcome back their talisman midfielder Tim Cahill from suspension.
It has been an ill-fated World Cup tournament for Australia, getting thumped 4-0 first-up by Germany, losing Cahill and Kewell to red cards in successive matches and defensive linchpin Moore banned after two yellow cards.
Coach Pim Verbeek, who brought just three recognised strikers to South Africa, has only Josh Kennedy and youngster Nikita Rukavytsya left along with midfielders Cahill and Brett Holman to score the goals to get Australia through to the knockout phase.
Serbian coach Milovan Rajevac, whose Ghana team drew 1-1 with the 10-man Australians in Rustenburg last Saturday, believes Serbia will be too strong for the Socceroos.
"I believe it's beyond them. Serbia have the quality and the players who are individually strong. That should be enough to see them through to the next round," Rajevac said.
While it's all or nothing for Australia, Serbia, on three points, could go through to the knockout phase with a draw.
Although they disappointed in their opening 1-0 loss to Ghana, Serbia bounced back to down Germany 1-0 and are poised to go through to the last 16.
Rajevac believes the imperative for Australia to score goals with open up their normally conservative game plan under Dutchman Verbeek.
"It's positive for Serbia that Australia have to open and attack," he said. "(Serbia coach) Radomir Antic knows Australia will have to attack Serbia and that will change the outlook of Australia's game totally."
Serbia will have plenty of attacking firepower with wingers Milos Krasic and Milan Jovanovic to supply giant striker Nikola Zigic.
Their defence is marshalled by Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic with Borussia Dortmund's Neven Subotic alongside him, Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic at right back and Real Madrid-bound Aleksandar Kolarov on the left.
The Serbs will relish having under-manned Australia as their last hurdle to playing in the knockout round.

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