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Socceroos keen for home crowd advantage

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The Socceroos are eager to come home after experiencing first-hand the power of a crazed crowd in Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Japan at Etihad Stadium shapes as a vital battle in Group B, which has been blown wide open after the latest round of results.

Australia remains top after a thrilling 2-2 draw in Jeddah but is only ahead of Saudi Arabia on goal difference, while Japan and the United Arab Emirates are deadlocked for third.

Were it not for a late goal from Nasser Al Shamrani - whose injection in the second half re-energised the more than 50,000 in the stands at King Abdullah Sports City and brought them back into the game - the Socceroos might have a little bit more breathing space.

But defender Matthew Spiranovic reckons they have every reason to still be confident of booking a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with four of their remaining seven qualifiers to be played at home and two trips to the Middle East already out of the way.

"It's open. That's why every game's vital and we've got a home game now to look forward to," Spiranovic said.

"We've played two tough games away in difficult conditions. Now it's one we can really get excited about, playing in front of our home supporters.

"I'm sure they'll come and fill out the stadium and get behind the boys. We're all looking forward to getting home now."

The Australian squad is due to land in Melbourne on Saturday night, leaving them with only two days to prepare for a match that now looms as a must-win.

Japan, who lost their first game at home 2-1 to the UAE, had to rely on an injury-time winner from Horatu Yamaguci to overcome Iraq in Saitama.

"They're a quality side and we're a quality side. It makes for a great game, but we'll be very confident going into the game, as we should be, and I think it will be a very competitive game," Spiranovic said.

"I'm sure things aren't going as smoothly as they would like with the loss first game up and then a winner in the 95th minute, but that keeps them close to the top and they'll go into the next game backing themselves as well.

"It'll be a good contest."

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