Socceroos sticking to guns in Saudi Arabia
Photo Source: AAP
Socceroo Mathew Leckie is confident their high-octane, no-surrender game will stand up through oppressive Middle Eastern heat for the second time in four weeks.
The Australian squad has gathered in Jeddah ahead of Thursday's World Cup qualifer (Friday morning AEDT) against Saudi Arabia, the only other undefeated side in Group B.
Conditions are tipped to be a little kinder than the 35C Dubai furnace they endured in last month's gutsy 1-0 win over the United Arab Emirates - but not by much, and that doesn't bother Leckie one bit.
"There was a lot of satisfaction winning the game, obviously, for all the effort we put in," Leckie told AAP.
"People in the media have their own opinions - that's normal, it's their job. There was a few saying maybe the best option would be to change the gameplan, drop back and try and score on the counter.
"But the boss doesn't want to change anything of what we do.
"He wants us to always move the ball, be dominant in the game. It's going to always be tough for a team to defend for 90 minutes."
Some players lost up to 4kg of water weight in the UAE victory but the team had no trouble maintaining their proactive, possession-heavy style against a rising Asian powerhouse, validating coach Ange Postecoglou's bullish views on Australia's position in the global pecking order.
Temperatures were still in the low 30s as the Socceroos held a light training run on Monday - about what is expected come kick-off at a sold-out King Abdullah Sports City, a new state-of-the-art stadium that opened two years ago and is considered the jewel in the country's sporting crown.
The only Australian player not yet in camp is goalkeeper Mitch Langerak, who is wrapping up club duties with his German club side Stuttgart and will arrive on Tuesday.
Saudi Arabia has not qualified for a World Cup since 2006 but locals are increasingly confident they will make it to Russia after recording wins over Thailand and Iraq so far in this stage of qualification.
"We're just expecting a really hard grind with a really strong team with motivation to not concede," Leckie said.