Socceroos look to bounce back but face tough time in Jordan

Australia will aim to avoid more Asian awayday woe when they travel to Amman to take on Jordan in a World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

The Socceroos are looking for a win to kick-start their bid to reach a third consecutive finals after stuttering to an opening draw in sweltering Oman before improving to claim another point last time out against Japan, who have moved into pole position in the race to become the first Asian team to qualify.

Twelve points was enough to advance from the five-team pool four years ago and Japan should make it to ten after their fourth match, at home to 2007 Asian Cup winners Iraq, on Tuesday.

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Australia, who have Hearts defender Ryan McGowan, below, in the squad for his first competitive international, and Japan are the favourites to claim the two available places from Group B for the finals in Brazil but the Socceroos will be wary of underdogs Jordan. The Aussies slipped to a 1-0 defeat in Oman in the previous round of qualifiers and made hard work of Thailand before edging the Bangkok game by a single goal.

Jordan were thrashed 6-0 away by Japan in June but are usually more formidable at home in hot temperatures.

“It’s a big challenge [against Jordan], the conditions are going to be very, very extreme again,” said 39-year-old Socceroos goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Japan were in friendly action on Thursday with a less-than-impressive 1-0 win at home to United Arab Emirates. Shinji Kagawa might be earning plaudits for the start to his Manchester United career but Japan boss Alberto Zaccheroni was less than impressed and hauled him off at half-time following a series of failed elaborate tricks.

Kagawa’s profile has risen dramatically in Japan following his £13.4 million move to England but in the eyes of experienced Italian coach Zaccheroni, he plays second fiddle to playmaker Keisuke Honda. CSKA Moscow’s Honda is expected to continue in the role just behind the striker, with an unhappy Kagawa pushed out to the left.

“Obviously, I always want to play in the hole but no matter what I say [to the coach] the situation isn’t going to change,” Kagawa said.

“That’s the way it goes and basically I just have to deliver results in whichever position I am played in.”