World Cup Playoff Second Leg Preview
Date: Wednesday, 14th November 2017
Location: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Kick off: 09:00 (CET)
After appearing in 22 games on en route to this stage, there is just 90 minutes between either Australia or Honduras securing a place at the 2018 World Cup in this second leg of the Intercontinental playoff.
The Socceroos have been across the globe and have already played in Thailand, Malaysia and Japan, among many others to get this far and so in this final game on home soil they will be hoping to make it all worth it.
In Sydney, they should have the advantage after getting a goalless draw in the first leg in San Pedro Sula. Despite an impressive Honduras performance, Australia were dominate and despite not taking the lead, It has been lauded at the Aussies best performance so far, despite not taking the lead.
This doesn’t mean Honduras are going to lay over for them in the return leg. We saw from the first leg the vast support Honduras has behind them and just how much it means to them, so the players will not want to let their fans down.
Honduras will be out hunting their third world cup on the bounce and looking to improve on their last two results at the competition in Brazil and South Africa, while Australia are looking their fourth in a row. Neither will want to lose this momentum, so it will be a passionate game for both sides, win or lose.
Honduras will welcome back captain, Maynor Giueroa and striker, Albert Elis from suspension for this leg which should put some fire in their belly and some heat going forward.
However, Australia will be confident, not only as they are at home, but thanks to the return of national team legend Tim Cahill, who declared himself fit to play on Monday.
The 37-year-old netted a double against Syria to propel them into the first leg and is consistent as clockwork in the yellow and green of Australia.
Although whether he will be in the final squad in Russia if they do qualify remains to be seen, getting them to the last 32 of this competition would be the cherry on top of a career which has see him score an incredible 50 times in 103 games.
He has not only scored the more goals in the World Cup than any other Australian player, but he was actually the first player ever to do so. Meaning he has already cemented himself as an Australian world cup legend and it would be the perfect fairy-tale if he was to get the crucial goal here to send them through again.
Cahill will team up with another crucial player in Midfield, Captain Mile Jedinak, who after a lengthy absence returned in superb form in the first leg and will be vital in making sure they proceed to Russia.
He not only is crucial at controlling the team from the midfield, but he is invaluable from dead ball situations, including of course, penalties, which is on the cards at this match.
He is not alone in returning to the squad for this crucial match, with Matthew Leckie also set to start on the wing as well, who will also be causing trouble down the flanks as well.
In general, Honduras will be fighting a tough midfield battle through, even tougher then before, so like in the first leg they will rely heavily on counter attack to perform, which wasn’t fruitful in the home leg.
Not only this, but after a lengthy 2 years of travels, Australia are home in this leg and they not only traveled home in style, they have had time to rest, meaning they will be fresher than ever and know a victory here would make it all worth it, while Honduras will be feeling the strain of a long journey and this will tell in the heat of Sydney. As such, Australia are looking at a home game with a healthy and fit squad, which means it is easy to see them come out on top.
Honduras are going to be under the kosh in the game from the get go and they will have some serious issues to defend against this attacking Aussie side which is even stronger with the return of Cahill and Leckie.
With this is mind, this should be a straight forward for the Australians, with a fitter squad than they had in the first leg and after what was demonstrated away, it will be difficult for Honduras to compete.
This could easily be all over way before the 90th Minute Whistle is blown.