Qantas Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill is optimistic about the team's chances of qualfying for Brazil, but says the players are not getting ahead of themselves.
While the Qantas Socceroos are cautiously optimistic about qualifying for their third straight FIFA World Cup against Iraq on Tuesday night, captain Lucas Neill says no one is dancing the samba just yet.
Neill adamant the mood in camp is a low-key one and that the squad as a whole aren-t getting any further ahead than Iraq, only keen to pop the champagne once they secure qualification.
Neill as usual professed a deep respect for his opponents, claiming Iraq will not be underestimated at Stadium Australia.
“There are no easy games in football, any opponent on any level needs to be respected, just because you are not educated enough about them doesn-t mean they are not good,” Neill said.
“We have never underestimated any of our opponents, arguably we have not played at our best, but every game is a hard game.
“Everybody is very calm, the manager and the senior players have made sure no one is talking about dancing the samba, no one is in Brazil yet and the fact is we need one game, one win, then we can start thinking about all the dreams coming true.”
While Neill admits dreams may very well come true in less than 48 hours, he stopped short of calling this arduous qualifying campaign a nightmare, even though the Socceroos at times have struggled compared to where they were when qualifying for South Africa 2010 under then manager Pim Verbeek.
“It-s definitely been a tough challenge, we have seen some difficult conditions, other teams are always improving and if you compare it to the last one, we qualified with two games to go.
“It has been harder, but that-s because the standard is getting better every time and we have played the majority of our games on the road early.”
National coach, Holger Osieck, who has copped the brunt of the criticism for what some would call a poor qualifying campaign was confident the Socceroos are exactly where they wanted to be all along.
“We are in the position we would have liked and we can determine our position ourselves, the team is very much aware of it and we are 100 per cent focussed.”