news, preview, Australia back on its soil for the first time since 2019


Mathew Leckie believes he owes the Socceroos an impressive performance against Saudi Arabia on Thursday night.

Having chosen not to travel overseas for Australia’s four World Cup qualifiers in September and October due to quarantine requirements allegedly placed on him, Leckie is desperate to repay the continued confidence shown in him. Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.

“I still want to be there and for many years now I barely miss the camps so it was a tough decision but sitting there and supporting the boys I was proud of the way we played”, said said Melbourne, 30. said the city striker.

“The boys put us in a very good position for qualifying. Even though I wasn’t there I could see how everyone was there, and the mentality, I can just imagine how it would have been in the camp.

“It’s in the past now. I’m just happy to be back, and I’m just excited for the game.

“I feel great. I had a lot of time to be able to prepare myself.

Saudi Arabia lead Group B in the third round of the AFC World Cup qualifiers with a perfect 12 points from four matches.

The Socceroos are three points behind the Saudis, with the top two teams in Groups A and B automatically qualifying for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

“It’s a very important game, without a doubt,” said Leckie, who has made 65 appearances in a Socceroos career dating back to 2012.

“Sometimes, no matter how you feel physically, it’s more of a mental thing.”

Arnold said the Saudis are in good shape but promised the Socceroos will “face each other” at CommBank Stadium in Sydney, where the Australians will play for the first time at home since October 2019.

“I expect our mentality to be… to make sure we’re on the front of the stage from the start and not give them time to play,” said the Socceroos mentor.

“It will be great to have our 12th man (the fans) here, but the focus is on our performance and the right game plan.

“We have worked extremely hard to put in place the principles for playing well over the past few years. It’s about one game at a time and (getting) all three points.

Without key playmakers Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy, Arnold predicted a big performance for Germany-based Ajdin Hrustic, despite reports he would be battling an injury.

“He’s 100% – otherwise he wouldn’t have come,” Arnold said.

“I expect him to show Aussie fans what he’s doing. He’s in great shape.

“In the conversations I have had with him, he is ready to go.

2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar – AFC Asian Qualifiers (Third Round)

Australia vs. Saudi Arabia

Thursday, 8:10 p.m. (AEDT)

CommBank Stadium, Parramatta

Television: live on network 10

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