Heat not a factor for Socceroos, says Ange
Photo Source: AAP
The Socceroos have adjusted to the searing Saudi Arabian heat and won't be thrown by anything that comes their way in Jeddah, coach Ange Postecoglou insists.
Preparations have been finalised for the clash on Thursday night (Friday morning AEDT) with the chance to break away on top of Group B and take a massive step towards qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia on the line.
After last month's win over the United Arab Emirates in Dubai - when temperatures reached 35 degrees at kick-off - the Socceroos still managed to play attacking, aggressive football for 90 minutes and the coach insists that once again there is no reason why they can't win if they perform at their best.
"Whilst the conditions are warm, they're not as warm as we've faced before, and the players have coped really well with it," Postecoglou said at the pre-match press conference.
"We prepare for all games the same way, we understand the different conditions we have to face.
"But nothing changes for us.
"The players will be well prepared and the way I see it, the conditions will be good tomorrow night.
"It's a good stadium, it looks like it's a good pitch, the weather will be OK. For us it's just a matter of going out there and performing."
There are no injury concerns in the Australian side and no absentees, meaning Postecoglou has a full-strength squad to pick from - but given the nature of the performance against the UAE, it's hard to imagine many changes to the starting team.
However, a number of new faces in the squad are contending for an appearance off the bench, including the uncapped Jimmy Jeggo and left-sided utility Craig Goodwin.
"The beauty of it is there's probably two or three line-ups I could put out there that I'd be confident of being able to play our kind of game," he said.
A completely sold-out crowd at the 62,241-capacity King Abdullah Sports City stadium - an impressive high-tech venue which only opened in May 2014 - awaits and a hostile environment is guaranteed.
Almost all tickets, except for premium-level seating, were given away free to spectators, who are desperate to see Saudi Arabia qualify for their first World Cup since 2006.
"It's great - we love playing in front of big crowds," Postecoglou said.
"It's a fantastic stadium here, and I'm sure the players will be excited by playing in such a nice stadium and in front of a big crowd - that's why you play football."