Bengaluru, November 9: After all the struggles that they have had so far in the Road to Russia, Australia is still just two wins away from playing their fourth successive World Cup.
But it is easier said than done as they face an unpredictable Honduras team away in the first leg of the continental play-off tie against at the Olimpico Metropolitano Stadium in San Pedro Sula on Friday (November 10).
The two countries will then take the long flight Down Under for the return leg to be played at the Stadium Australia in Sydney on Wednesday (November 15).
The Central American side qualified by finishing fourth in the CONCACAF region, while Australia squeezed through after beating Syria in an inter-continental play-off tie.
Prevailing in football terms is one thing. But, coping with the pressure in a match which has political implications is another aspect the Socceroos would have to deal with.
Honduras striker Anthony Lozano started the mind games and fired the first salvo.
"You've to give your all in these games, you've to kill them off if you can. It's home and away so we've to take advantage of the home leg. We're motivated and I'm sure we'll be going to the World Cup," said Lozano.
Australia, who are still sweating over the fitness of their talisman striker Tim Cahill will find the conditions extremely tough though. The Olimpico Metropolitano is the biggest stadium in Honduras and the hostile crowd and noise levels will certainly bother the Socceroos. The fate of coach Ange Postecoglou also hangs in balance.
But the Socceroos have always had this ability of raising the game when it matters most and that should hold them in good stead. This is where Cahill's presence is going to make a big difference. The 37-year-old has scored whenever the team needs its most and with him having resumed training the Socceroos can breath a sigh of relief though.
🙌🏽💯😝💙⚽️🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/wY3Sa4yn5K— TIM CAHILL (@Tim_Cahill) November 9, 2017
Away goals are important in such knock-out fixtures and even if Cahill does not start, anytime he can come out of the bench and prove his worth as he has done on a number of previous occassions.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan summarised the Socceroos mindset pretty well.
"The Socceroos' identity doesn't change too much. We come out and stick to our fundamentals. We're going to go out there with the same style and we've proven that with every opposition we've faced," said the Brighton and Hove Albion custodian.
Kick off is at 4pm local time (3.30am IST, Saturday)