Australia seek point to secure Qatar spot

SINGAPORE - World Cup-bound Australia are one of six teams vying for the three remaining places at the 2011 Asian Cup finals in the last round of qualifying on Wednesday.

Australia need a point at home to Indonesia to advance from Group B alongside either Kuwait or Oman, who meet in Muscat, with all three sides still in the hunt for a place as next January's finals in Qatar.

Kuwait currently lead the standings on eight points from five matches, courtesy of a better head-to-head record over the Socceroos, with Oman third on seven points and Indonesia out of contention on three.

Despite Wednesday being an official FIFA matchday, Australia coach Pim Verbeek, whose current contract expires after the World Cup in July, has chosen a squad comprised of mainly domestic A-League players for the match.

Should Australia lose in Brisbane they would miss out on qualification if Oman beat Kuwait, but striker Josh Kennedy is banking on a victory for the hosts to secure a finals berth.

"The game is extremely important and we definitely want to win the game and not to leave it up to the result of the other game," Kennedy said.

"I think every game we play up until the World Cup is very important, especially getting in with the guys again and the more games we have the better we're going to gel."


The situation in Group E is similarly complex where Thailand, Singapore and Jordan are all in a position to join pool winner's Iran in Qatar.

Coached by former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson, Thailand currently occupy second place on six points from five games thanks to a better head-to-head record over Southeast Asian rivals Singapore, with Jordan bottom on five points.

However, Robson's men must pick up at least a point against Iran in Tehran to retain any hope of advancing and have been training in Qatar as preparation.

Bottom side Jordan, who pulled off a surprise 1-0 win over Iran at home in November to keep alive their qualifying bid will fancy their chances at home to Singapore, who are without key midfielder Mustafic Fahrudin through suspension.

Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic is aware of the level of expectation in the city-state as the team bid to qualify for the Asian Cup finals for the first time:

"The stakes for this game are very high as we are playing for the finals of the Asian Cup. The players are all aware of this, and we have the will to do it."

Elsewhere, already-qualified Japan and Bahrain clash with under-fire "Blue Samurai" coach Takeshi Okada needing a victory in order to win Group A.

With several of the team's Europe-based players back in the squad, Japan can ill afford to slip up against Bahrain after finishing third as hosts of the East Asian championships in Tokyo last month.

"We have just one whole day together so I'm not intending to make any long speeches to the players," Okada told reporters. "They all have to play to their potential and deliver so we take three points."

In other matches, undefeated Syria should beat Lebanon at home to win Group D with Uzbekistan likely to finish top of Group C, should they avoid defeat at home to the United Arab Emirates.