Will the Socceroos be able to withstand a first leg onslaught in their quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup? The first of Australia’s World Cup playoff with Honduras is early Saturday morning in the hot and humid conditions of the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. Both sides are aiming to return to the big stage but only one can progress. A playoff is nothing familiar to the Socceroos, having fallen at the final hurdle of qualifying for the World Cup on numerous occasions before ‘that’ famous breakthrough against Uruguay at ANZ Stadium 12 years ago. Since then they have gone through the group stages unscathed and qualified automatically for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups.
This time they’ve done it the hard way after finishing third in their group before beating Syria in a two-leg playoff last month. A lot is riding on the fitness of Tim Cahill who is regarded as Australia’s best ever Socceroo after he suffered an ankle injury last week when playing against Sydney FC.
Honduras had to beat Mexico 3-2 in the final game of CONCACAF qualifying to reach this stage and their side is littered with class players and it’s their depth that could trouble the Socceroos.
One of their biggest concerns, however, is their defence where they haven’t kept a cleansheet for over 12 months. During qualifying they were hit for six by USA while Mexico also handed them a 3-nil lesson earlier in the campaign.
3 KEY POINTS
DRAW / DRAW
TOTAL GOALS OVER OR UNDER