Kewell out as Australia take on Thais

Asian heavyweights Australia will be without key forward Harry Kewell when they face Thailand in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday as they try to forget their shock humbling by lowly Oman and grab the point they need to reach the next round.

Kewell picked up a muscle strain in the 1-0 loss to Oman on Friday and has been sent home to Australia for further treatment so will miss the match in Bangkok.

The Socceroos lead Group D in the third round of Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with nine points from four matches and a draw against Thailand will give them one of the 10 places in the fourth round.

The Asian Cup runners-up could have already joined Japan, Uzbekistan and Jordan in the fourth round if they had beaten Oman, but forward Amad Al Hosni scored the game's only goal.

"It gives us a little bit of a kick up the backside going into the Thailand game," captain Lucas Neill said after the defeat in Muscat.

"We have to be really switched on. We know that'll be a difficult game in difficult conditions.

"Maybe we respond better under pressure. Maybe we needed that. We needed to feel like it's difficult. No games are easy. Now we know it's a situation where we must win."

The match in Bangkok has been moved away from the National Stadium because it is being used as an evacuation centre after floods hit the Thai capital.

Saudi Arabia can also reach the fourth round if they beat Oman in Riyadh and the Socceroos overcome the Thais.

Frank Rijkaard's side endured a difficult start to the campaign with a draw in Muscat against Tuesday's opponents and a home loss to Australia.

However, an improved display in overcoming Thailand 3-0 on Friday moved them into second in the group on five points.


South Korea are also eyeing a fourth round berth and should have little problem in getting the victory they need away to Lebanon to win Group B with a game to spare.

The Koreans have been at the last seven World Cup finals and have been impressive again so far as they sit on top of Group B with 10 points from four matches.

They will be without captain Park Chu-young on Tuesday, however, because of suspension after he picked up another yellow card in the 2-0 away in the United Arab Emirates on Friday.

Lebanon are surprisingly second in the group after a shock win in Kuwait on Friday but the lowest-ranked side remaining in Asia qualifying at 146th are likely to struggle against the side they lost 6-0 to earlier in qualifying.

Iran could also reach the fourth round if they win in Indonesia on Tuesday and other results go their way.

The Group E leaders have eight points from four matches and lead Qatar on goal difference. Qatar, World Cup hosts in 2022, will reach the fourth round if they beat Bahrain at home.

Asian champions Japan have already qualified from Group C so there is little riding on their trip to Pyongyang to play North Korea, who are already out.

Around 150 Blue Samurai supporters have made the trip for the match after the Japanese government relaxed rules on asking nationals to not make trips to the North Korean capital, the Kyodo news agency reported.

"I've never been there, but it's not the first time I'll be going to a new country with Japan," captain Makoto Hasebe said.

"I'm not too worried about actually going there. What concerns me is the football aspect of things, like the quality of our opponents, the atmosphere of the crowd, stuff like that."