|WCQ: Honduras v Australia
Saturday 9:00am (AEDT) at
Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, Honduras
|Best: Both Teams To Score – YES ($2.05)
Other: Over 2.5 goals ($2.40)
Value: HT/FT – Honduras/Honduras ($3.25)
Correct Score: Honduras 2-1 ($9.00)
The Wolf is fully aware of the magnitude of this game and what it means for football in this country but he has always said it how it is and has explained that he would be doing himself, and his loyal followers, a disservice if he made any exceptions. The outcome… he will give us the cold hard truth.
The Socceroos are in trouble!
Playoffs were meant to be a thing of the past when Australia made the shift to the Asian Confederation and they were – until now. No one wants to remember November 29, 1997 or four years later in Montevideo but that is what the Socceroos face. Even the most loyal supporters have got no nails left to chew and to say that they scraped past Syria is an understatement. The Socceroos have won just 1 of their last 8 competitive matches and none of their last 5 World Cup qualifiers away from home. In fact, they have conceded in each of those 5 away games and have allowed multiple goals in 3 of them.
So who are Honduras?
They don’t have any names that jump off the page and the majority of their squad play locally but the fact remains that Honduras are seeking to qualify for the World Cup for a 3rd consecutive time. They are undefeated in their last 5 World Cup Qualifiers – a run that includes a win away to Trinidad and Tobago along with a come from behind win over Mexico.
Those who are yet to see Honduras in action will quickly notice that they are very good on the ball and play with a real tempo. There is no hesitation in their game and they will look to spread the ball wide in order to utilise Alberto Elis and Rmoell Quioto on the flanks. The wide duo along with playmaker Romell Quioto have a shoot on site policy – and that means from almost anywhere. They will fill the box with a barrage of crosses with The Wolf noting that the Australian midfield will need to pick up on the driving runs through midfield from Hernandez and Mejia. Also they may want to refrain from giving away free kicks around the box as captain Maynor Figueroa has a bullet left foot!
Where will it be won?
As already mentioned Honduras will look to go wide and that will put extreme pressure on Behich and Risdon – the likely starting wing backs. Postecoglou went with the duo in the away leg in the Syria tie and will probably opt for them again to sit outside of the back three of Sainsbury, Jurman and Degenek. The reports are that we will see an all new midfield but that should come as no surprise with Ange’s love for musical chairs. Mooy will definitely start with Rogic, Irvine and Luongo the front runners to support. It means no Kruse and Leckie – great news for the Socceroos if that is the case. They are two of the weaker bodies and their supply from wide areas over the last few matches has been sub standard – and that is being polite.
The Socceroos will need to be physical and play a more direct brand of football. The surface at the Estadio Olimpico is far from pristine and it will make it all the more difficult for the Socceroos to move the ball around. Closing down the overlapping runs of Elis and Quioto will be critical but no matter who takes the field The Wolf cannot see the Socceroos maintaining a clean sheet.
Will we see Tim Cahill?
Australia’s greatest ever goal scorer came to the rescue against Syria but with a ankle injury hindering his preparation The Wolf says he will not be starting. That task will be given to Juric. The Wolf is almost certain that Cahill will be preserved for the return leg in Sydney. The only way we see Timmy is if the Socceroos go down by multiple goals and are required to make a real push for an away goal. Even then it will only be for the closing 15-20 minutes.
The Wolf cannot see the Socceroos maintaining a clean sheet in either of the two matches and that means they will have to rely on goals to get through. As a result we will see a far more open encounter than anticipated. Both teams have found the back of the net in the last 5 World Cup qualifiers for Honduras at home and 4 of the last 5 for the Socceroos away. It is no secret that Ange wants at least one away goal and they will need it with his side having maintained just the one clean sheet in it’s last 14 competitive matches. The Wolf can see the Socceroos falling behind in the first half and that will real pressure on them to respond. Honduras to claim a 2-1 victory at home.