x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Australia have one foot in Qatar

They need just one point from their home tie against Indonesia, who are bottom of the group and have not won a game.

While seven teams have already secured their places in the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar, through qualifying games Group B is wide open with Kuwait, Australia and Oman fighting for two qualifying spots. On paper, the Australians have the easiest task. They need just one point from their home tie against Indonesia, who are bottom of the group and have not won a game. However, Pim Verbeek, the coach of Asia's top-ranked team, has warned his Socceroos against underestimating the out-of-contention Indonesians.

Kuwait - level on eight points with Australia but ahead on goal difference - travel to Oman (seven points) in Group B's other game,. Despite Indonesia being bottom of the group, Verbeek believes the visitors, who held Australia to a 0-0 draw in Jakarta, will be a tough task for his team, who are missing most of their Europe-based players including Everton's Tim Cahill and Galatasaray's Harry Kewell.

"They have lost a few games, but they have only lost with a one-goal difference," said the Dutchman. "I saw all the DVDs of all the games they played and they weren't outplayed in one game. "Sometimes they were unlucky to lose a game and in the end that cost them qualification. We are aware they can play football and they showed it in the away game. "They have a lot to win and nothing to lose, and they are dangerous."

If Indonesia do manage an upset in Brisbane, it will give a boost to the hopes of Kuwait and Oman, who play later in the day in Muscat. A draw in that match could see both teams book their passage to Qatar if Australia lose. Three teams - Thailand (six points), Singapore (six) and Jordan (five) - are vying for the second qualifying spot from Group E, behind Iran (10). To realise their dream, Thailand, coached by Bryan Robson, the former England captain, have to take points off Iran in Tehran. If they can force a draw, they will be hoping for a similar result in Amman, where Jordan host Singapore.

Robson has urged his players to focus on their game against Iran and avoid being distracted by the Jordan-Singapore clash. "Our players are looking forward to the match," said Robson. "We will play for a win. "We cannot rely on the result of the other match. We are not afraid of Iran. We want to prove that we can play against Asia's big teams. We are here to win a finals berth." Hosts Qatar and 12 other teams, five of them automatic qualifiers, are already through to the final stages of the tournament. arizvi@thenational.ae