Preview: Oman v Qantas Socceroos

Even with home advantage, however, Oman will be more hopeful than confident about taking anything away from their meeting with the Qantas Socceroos.

Date: Friday, November 11 Kick-off: 6pm local time (1am Saturday AEST) Venue: Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat

Head-to-head Played 4, Australia 3 wins, 1 draw

Previous Meeting: Australia 3, Oman 0, World Cup qualifier, Sydney, October 2011

Past five matches: Australia: Australia 3, Oman 0, World Cup qualifier, Sydney, October 2011 Australia 5, Malaysia 0, friendly, Canberra, October 2011 Saudi Arabia 1, Australia 3, World Cup qualifier, Dammam, September 2011 Australia 2, Thailand 1, World Cup qualifier, Brisbane, September 2011 Wales 1, Australia 2, friendly, Cardiff, August 2011

Oman Australia 3, Oman 0, World Cup qualifier, Sydney, October 2011 Thailand 3, Oman 0, World Cup qualifier, Bangkok, September 2011 Oman 0, Saudi Arabia 0, World Cup qualifier, Muscat, September 2011 Oman 2, Kuwait 1, friendly, Muscat, August 2011 Oman 1, Bahrain 1, friendly, Muscat, August 2011 Oman 2, Myanmar 0, World Cup qualifier, Muscat, July 2011


"If it ain't broke, don't fix it", was the catchcry for most monarchists when Australia went to the polls for the 1999 republic referendum.

It is also the poser that faces Qantas Socceroos coach Holger Osieck ahead of Saturday morning's AFC 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier with Oman.

Rather less political importance is attached to what Osieck decides to do with his starting XI than that poll in 1999, even if he did show his diplomatic side by allowing Brett Emerton to make his Sydney FC debut in the Hyundai A-League season opener rather than summon the Qantas Socceroos stalwart for matches against Malaysia and Oman in October.

Osieck afforded the same courtesy to a then-underdone Kewell, but has recalled the veteran duo for the trip to Muscat and then Bangkok four days later to face Thailand.

With the Qantas Socceroos top of Group A and all-but through to the fourth round of qualifying, their return is hardly the cavalry coming to the rescue.

But the experience Kewell and Emerton bring will be a welcome addition, particularly in the oft-tricky conditions in both the Middle East and South-east Asia.

At the other end of the scale, Mitch Nichols has been rewarded for his development under Ange Postecoglou in Brisbane Roar's midfield with a first call-up since his solitary cap in 2009.

The experience in camp this week is likely to be very different for Nichols, who made his national team debut as a 62nd-minute substitution for a Hyundai A-League based Socceroos in their surprise 1-0 loss to Kuwait in 2011 Asian Cup qualifying under Pim Verbeek.

There are plenty of parallels between Nichols' progression and the growing confidence in the ability of Hyundai A-League players to perform at international level, although Nichols is the only player other than Kewell and Emerton to hail from the domestic competition in Osieck's squad for Oman and Thailand.

Nichols is Australia's least experienced player in the squad, but only because uncapped Aston Villa youngster Chris Herd was forced to withdraw through injury.

Herd played 90 minutes in Villa's English Premier League win over Norwich City on Saturday, but the 22-year-old picked up an ankle knock and was deemed not fit enough to travel.

How or if Osieck decides to tinker with a winning line-up remains the question, with the 3-0 win over Oman in October stretching the Qantas Socceroos' winning run to five matches and unbeaten streak to eight.

Kewell's inclusion to the starting XI would force a change of formation for Osieck, with Josh Kennedy's six goals in his past four international appearances making him impossible to dislodge up front.

Emerton appears the more likely of the two to start, with Luke Wilkshire reverting back to defence and Rhys Williams perhaps making way.

Mark Schwarzer's return between the posts despite the form of Adam Federici in his absence is a little more assured, with the Fulham goalkeeper missing the October matches through a back strain.

Opposite number Ali Al-Habsi is Oman's most recognisable player, and he will be hoping for more protection than he was afforded in the loss against the Qantas Socceroos in Canberra.

Paul Le Guen's men are bottom of Group D with one point, though they are just a win from second-placed Thailand with three matches remaining.

Even with home advantage, however, Oman will be more hopeful than confident about taking anything away from their meeting with Australia. By selecting a strong squad for the two matches, Osieck has given the impression that he wishes to promptly sew up a spot in the fourth round of qualifying and keep his side's momentum in motion.

Having indicated it is form and not reputation that impresses him most, Osieck may have left diplomacy at the departure gates for the trip to Oman, and Kewell and Emerton could find it hard to force an immediate return into the Qantas Socceroos XI.

After all, only a win - not a referendum - will decide Australia's progression to the next stage of qualifying.