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Saudis 'not afraid' of Socceroos: coach

Saudi Arabia coach Bert van Marwijk says his football side are
Saudis 'not afraid' of Socceroos: coach
Photo Source: EPA

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An open game beckons in Thursday night's World Cup qualifier in Jeddah after Saudi Arabia coach Bert van Marwijk declared his side are "not afraid" of the Socceroos.

Asked how the Green Falcons would combat Australia's physical superiority in the crunch Group B clash at King Abdullah Sports City, van Marwijk said he would "choose football".

"I cannot make the players bigger and stronger in a few days or a few weeks," the Dutchman told reporters at the official pre-match press conference.

"The players of Barcelona are also not the biggest and strongest players. We are not Barcelona, far from that, but we choose the football.

"You saw it every time we play. The game against Iraq in Malaysia was in quality not good and on a very bad pitch. We like to play on a good pitch and here it is much better.

"Also Iraq was a physical, very strong team but in the end we got more control the longer the game went. After one hour you could feel we could turn the game, they got cramp."

His comments are a likely pointer to a free-flowing, entertaining game in light of Ange Postecoglou's position that Australia will not adjust their attacking style under any circumstances.

It's also curious given the Asian Cup holders are no longer as reliant on what was once their trademark physicality.

Van Marwijk, who coached the Netherlands to the 2010 World Cup final, didn't give anything away when pressed on how his team would tactically approach the match.

"When I analyse our opponent I will not talk about it with everybody - only my players and my staff," he said.

"I only can tell you we analysed them very well."

Saudi Arabia, like Australia, are in a good position after two wins from two in this stage of World Cup qualification.

They have not made an appearance at a World Cup since 2006.

"The mission is only a success when we are going to Russia. I said from the first day we have a chance and I say it still," van Marwijk said.

"We know we play against a very good team and we respect them but we also have to trust in ourselves.

"The players are in very good shape, mentally they are well prepared. We are not afraid."

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