Neill wary of 'bogey team' Iraq
By Football News
Lucas Neill says Australia are keeping their feet 'firmly on the ground' ahead of their World Cup qualifier in Sydney against 'bogey-team' Iraq.
Australia will qualify for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil if they defeat Iraq at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday, while anything less than victory will mean the Socceroos' hopes will rest on the result between Jordan and Oman.
A fortnight ago, the Socceroos' chances of reaching Brazil 2014 hung by a thread but following an impressive 1-1 draw in Japan, plus Tuesday's emphatic 4-0 victory over Jordan in Melbourne, Neill and his teammates are on the verge of a third-straight World Cup finals appearance.
But the 35-year-old captain told radio station 2UE on Thursday that Australia are not getting carried away.
"We can book our own ticket (with a win in Sydney) but we know Iraq is one of our bogey teams...so our feet are firmly on the ground, there's going to be five solid days of preparation now," Neill said.
"There's a quiet confidence in camp but there's also a steely focus."
In the lead-up to the three World Cup qualifiers this month, Australia's coach Holger Osieck took some flak for not picking more of the younger generation and relying on players who were involved at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Against Jordan, Australia's starting line-up had an average age of 30.63 years but while Neill believes the Socceroos' veterans should get more respect, he also hinted that the team could change by the time Brazil 2014 rolls around.
"In a year from now, they (the younger generation) will be better players going into, hopefully, their first World Cup...and we'll worry about the teams in Brazil once we get there," Neill said.
"We've just got to work out Iraq for now."
Neill said up to 65,000 tickets are already sold for the match at ANZ Stadium but called on Sydney to fill the venue and cheer Australia to victory.