v Honduras Wednesday November 15, 8pm ANZ Stadium, Sydney Live on Fox Sports and 9Go.
Referee: Nestor Pitana (Argentina)
ON THE FIELD
(3-2-4-1): Ryan; Milligan, Sainsbury, Jurman; Jedinak, Mooy; Leckie, Rogic, Kruse, Behich; Cahill.
Key player:Tom Rogic Rogic is by common consent perhaps the most talented player in the n squad, and now is his chance to show those skills in a big game in a high pressure environment. His dribbling skill and technique should be a significant weapon for as they seek to break down what will in all likelihood be a massed Honduran defence. He is used to such challenges, facing them on a weekly basis for his club side Glasow Celtic, who dominate the Scottish Premier League.
Key Socceroo Tom Rogic. Photo: AAP
Honduras (4-2-3-1): Escober; Beckeles, Palacios, M Figueroa, Izaguirre; Mejia, Acosta; Elis, Lopez, Quioto; Hernandez.
Key player:Alberth Elis The dynamic young winger put the world on notice with his brilliant display in the 2016 Olympic Games and has since become a regular for Los Catrachos’ senior team. He has been one of their more prolific players during the qualifiers, having netted four goals in crucial results. He missed the first leg due to suspension and will be one of the two fresh players introduced into the starting team by coach Jorge Luis Pinto.
Alberth Elis in action for his club side, Houston. Photo: AP
IN THE DUGOUT
: Ange Postecoglou Mystery still surrounds Postecoglou’s future, as he has steadfastly refused to confirm or deny reports that he may quit after this game. He would dearly love to be the first n coach to take the Socceroos through a qualifying campaign to the World Cup – whether he is at the finals or not. Has backed his players and his tactical structures through thick and thin and is confident he will get his reward on Wednesday.
Ange Postecoglou with Mile Jedinak in Sydney on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
Honduras: Jorge Luis Pinto The unpopular Colombian coach faces significant pressure back home after the first leg failed to placate a hostile public. He’s accused the media of undermining his preparations by “leaking” tactical information about his team and has even directed his anger towards n team officials during the drone incident. Already, he has lost his voice and is struggling to talk and the animated coach could be reduced to hand signs on the sideline. These are all signs of pressure, but as he acknowledged, Honduras needs “a cold head but hot blood”. Finding that calm will be his biggest challenge.
Honduras head coach Jorge Luis Pinto. Photo: AP
THE KEY BATTLE
Tim Cahill v Maynor Figueroa The two are well-acquainted adversaries from their time in the English Premier League but the stakes are much higher now in the twilight of their careers and away from the blinding lights of the world’s most popular league. The two veterans are set to return to lead their national teams after missing the first leg. Figueroa was suspended for the 0-0 draw while Cahill was not risked, having just overcome an ankle injury. Cahill believes he’s found weaknesses in Honduras’ defence and has a strong knowledge of Figueroa’s game. Honduras coach Pinto described Figueroa as an asset, and is confident his presence, influence and experience will sturdy Honduras’ backline. On Wednesday night, one of the two senior players will prove decisive.