Obstacles hit Qantas Under 23's for Lebanon match
The Qantas Under 23’s have been hit with a few obstacles in the lead up to the third match of their 2008 Olympics qualifying campaign against Lebanon at Bluetongue Stadium tonight.
The Qantas Under 23-s have been hit with a few obstacles in the lead up to the third match of their 2008 Olympics qualifying campaign against Lebanon at Bluetongue Stadium tonight.
Adelaide United attacking midfielder Nathan Burns was unable to travel to Gosford to join his team mates, after picking up a thigh strain on the weekend, while key defender Adrian Leijer has been ruled out through suspension after picking up a yellow card in Saturday night-s win over DPR Korea.
Those two definite absences could also be compounded, if captain Mark Milligan and midfield general Stuart Musialik are also ruled out with groin and hamstring strains respectively.
“Adrian is out, which is a big blow because he is pretty steady at the back and means we have to change things a little bit,” said assistant coach Steve O-Connor, who has been taking training in regular coach Graham Arnold-s absence.
“Millsy (Milligan) has a bit of a groin strain and Stu (Musialik) has a hamstring strain. We are hoping those two will be right because they are important cogs down the middle of the park.”
However this is something that the coaching staff has gotten used to during this qualifying campaign with each game seemingly seeing a number of changes to the starting line-up, which indicates the depth, is strong.
“When we-ve needed to make changes, the one-s that have stepped in have done well and I don-t expect any different on Wednesday night,” O-Connor said.
With this being a double date of fixtures, the team got the first part of the job done with a 1-0 win over DPR Korea last Saturday in Newcastle and O-Connor said it-s important to make sure they get the second part finished.
“Obviously we need to keep winning games,” the former Socceroo said. “Because it will most likely come down to us and Iraq in the end at home, so the pressure is on to beat these teams (DPR Korea and Lebanon).
“Iraq had a good win against Lebanon (last Saturday) and we are in our own backyard, so we have to go out and make the play.
“I think we played well (against DPR); we dominated and we probably should have scored a few more goals, which would have been helpful. They didn-t really get in behind us; they hit the crossbar with the one chance they had,” he added.
With Lebanon forced to make a quick trip to Australia and having been thrashed 5-0 by Iraq, their confidence will be somewhat fragile, which is something that Australia must exploit.
“If all goes well, you hope to dominate the game from early on,” he said. “Hopefully the ground is okay, because it was under water and they had a few rugby finals there on the weekend. We-ll be looking to press them as much as we can.
“They will be defensive obviously; we-ve watched them play a few games and they get a lot of bodies behind the ball. They play with five back and two screeners, so it won-t be easy.
“They did get beaten by Iraq, but they did get a player sent off. If we get one against them early, then I think we could get three or four, but it-s a matter of breaking them down and getting the first one.”
O-Connor said the team is in good spirits and ready for the match and the players are fully aware of the importance of the match and what expected.
“The boys are pretty upbeat; we had a good session this afternoon and they were pretty sharp. They are in good spirits and we expect them to go out and do the business, that-s what they do, they are professional sportsmen.”
The match against Lebanon is being played at Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford, with kick-off at 7pm. Tickets are available for the match from www.ticketek.com.au or can be purchased at the ground. Please note: There is no broadcast of this match.