East Asian Cup Preview: Australia v China
By Football News
Australia cannot win the East Asian Cup but will be hoping to dent China's chances of doing so when they meet in Seoul on Sunday.
The Socceroos were fortunate to escape with a draw against South Korea in their opening game before a 3-2 loss to Japan on Thursday left them bottom of the group.
Australia coach Holger Osieck has taken a squad mostly from the A-League, giving the national team's fringe players a chance to shine and push their claim for a spot at Brazil 2014.
But the performances have been average at best, with the humid conditions in South Korea also making things difficult.
Melbourne Victory midfielder Mitch Nichols impressed off the bench against China and should be given a start in Australia's final game of the tournament.
Osieck has promised to ring the changes, meaning the likes of Craig Goodwin, Trent Sainsbury and Aaron Mooy may all start along with Nichols.
Attacker Archie Thompson could get another start out wide as he chases Damian Mori's record of 29 goals for Australia.
Thompson and Tim Cahill are locked on 28 each but the New York Red Bulls forward remained with his MLS side in the United States.
The Socceroos struggled in their opening game and would have tasted defeat if not for a man-of-the-match display from goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.
The performance improved against Japan, who surprisingly afforded Australia time and space on the ball.
Defensively, the Socceroos again looked poor, and the final pass in the attacking third was lacking until late in the contest.
The space between the three lines was too great and Australia defended deep against Japan, giving Alberto Zaccheroni's men opportunities to create.
And Australia face a China side who could still win the tournament, sitting second and two points adrift of Japan after two draws – 3-3 against Zaccheroni's side and 0-0 against the hosts.
Jose Antonio Camacho was sacked as China coach in June after a disastrous two-year spell in charge, given his marching orders after his team's 5-1 loss to Thailand in a friendly.
China will be desperate for a win to at least put pressure on group leaders Japan, who take on South Korea at the Jamsil Olympic Stadium afterwards.