Jedinak raring to go for Socceroos contest
Photo Source: AAP
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou won't admit it but Australia has the chance to break the back of their World Cup qualifying path with a victory over Japan on Tuesday night.
And the Socceroos should have a full complement of players to choose from after Mile Jedinak asserted his fitness by training a day before the match.
Australia are already in pole position in the group having met the tests of three games to date.
Those challenges included a first-up match against an unpredictable Iraq side and two taxing trips to the Middle East to play in sweltering conditions.
Against Japan at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, the contest will be purely football, and that has Postecoglou excited.
"Whenever we play Japan there's a bit of a rivalry there that dates back to the 2006 World Cup and one that's grown since joining the Asian confederation," he said.
"It's a very important game in terms of the World Cup qualifiers but I think its going to be a high quality contest played in front of a big crowd on a great pitch.
"I'm really looking forward to it and I know the players are too."
The Asian champions will enter the match as favourites, with an intimidating record on home soil.
Only once - in a dead rubber against China in 2008 - have Australia lost a World Cup qualifier since joining Asia.
Conversely, the Socceroos haven't beaten Japan in their past five meetings, dating back to a 2009 qualifier at the MCG.
Three points against Japan, with a match against bottom side Thailand to come next month, should have Australia on top of their group at the half-way mark of the final qualifying stage. But Postecoglou isn't counting his chickens.
"Every time is an opportunity to get closer," he said.
"You have to be up for every game. Every point is precious.
"But it's not decided tomorrow. We're in great shape but we're not there yet.
"The group has already shown it's going to be pretty tight.
"We're still on the road to Russia rather than (reaching) our destination."
Jedinak, who spent Sunday's training window in the pool, has been making use of knee strapping while in Melbourne but joined in training on Monday and declared himself ready to play.
"I'm fit to go," he said.
Jedinak said the Socceroos wouldn't be straying from their high-intensity, pressing, physical game style.
"We've analysed them and have a game plan on what we want to do," he said.
"Hopefully we can get a good foothold in the game and go on form there."
Back-up goalkeeper Adam Federici missed Monday's training with a cold.
FFA officials said they expected more than 45,000 people to attend the match, which will be played with the roof closed if it rains.