Aussies hit trouble on road to Olympic football

27 November 2011 05:46

Australia host Uzbekistan on Sunday under pressure to kick-start their misfiring Olympic qualifying campaign after a pair of unimpressive draws.

Aurelio Vidmar's under-23s will be up against it in Sydney after September's home draw with UAE, followed by last week's 1-1 result against Iraq in Doha, prompted a raft of critical coverage.

"But we haven't lost, either," said coach Vidmar, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. "Don't write us off yet."

Australian media have already pounced on the slow start as evidence that the country will struggle to replace the 'golden generation' of Harry Kewell, Tim Cahill, Lucas Neill and Mark Schwarzer.

But Vidmar insisted the 'Olyroos', who were frustrated by some heroics from Iraqi goalkeeper Jalal Hassan last week, were just one win from getting back on track as they lie only two points behind Uzbekistan in Group B.

"It was a missed opportunity," Vidmar said of Tuesday's game.

"Had we won, everything would have been looking fine. But we didn't, and that's disappointing. But it's not the end of the world, we'll have a much better idea after Sunday at what sort of position we are in."

A-League defenders Curtis Good and Ben Kantarovski have been called up for Sunday's game as Australia bid to top Group B halfway through the six-game qualifying round.

The top teams from three groups gain an automatic ticket to London 2012, while the second-placed sides enter a round-robin with the prize of a play-off against an African nation.

In Tokyo, Japan and Syria will put their perfect records on the line when they battle for the leadership of Group C.

Group A leaders South Korea will hope to bounce back from their 1-1 draw with Qatar mid-week as they take on Saudi Arabia in Seoul. Second-placed Oman face Qatar in Muscat.

And Southeast Asian Games champions Malaysia will be bidding for their first points of qualifying when they meet Bahrain in Kuala Lumpur in Group C.

Source: AFP

World Cup Group G

Belgium 1 0 0 3 3
England 1 0 0 1 3
Tunisa 0 0 1 -1 0
Panama 0 0 1 -3 0
Last updated : 16:17