Match Preview Aussies Going for Broke

A tie would be enough to see Australian through to the next round. But that's not in their nature. The team will be going for broke.


The Socceroos will be looking for victory against Croatia.
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The Socceroos will be looking for victory against Croatia.

A draw should be enough for Australia to join Brazil in the second round, but with six squad members with Croatian heritage they face an emotional match-up against Croatia.

Although two points ahead of the Croatians in Group F, an Australian loss would mean the end of the team's tournament -- and an end to the amazing ride under Hiddink since he took up the challenge of coaching the team last July. Hiddink take up an appointment as Russia's head coach after the World Cup.

"We are not thinking that the end is near because we've had a wonderful preparation, the boys are so committed," Hiddink said. "It is still and will be joyful to work with them. I like very much the attitude of the players. Let's have some more."

With the potential for the emotion of the occasion spilling over and the high stakes involved, English referee Graham Poll has been appointed by FIFA to control the match.

Hiddink said the FIFA disciplinary hearing Tuesday looking into Harry Kewell's rant at German referee Markus Merk after Australia's 2-0 loss to Brazil last Sunday had not been a distraction to the team's preparation.

The Liverpool player was cleared to play in Thursday's game after the governing body found inconsistencies in the referee's report on the on-pitch blow-up.

"Mentally, Harry's okay. When he came on against Brazil he played a good role and had a chance to score the equalizer," Hiddink said. "I think he's up to have a big match, whether it's from the start or later on in the game. But he showed that he's fully fit mentally and physically.We know that it's only his lack of games in the past weeks to blame for his not at his top yet, but with his special ability he can be of huge importance for us against Croatia."

Hiddink said he is ignoring Croatia's scoreless draw with Japan as he develops his gameday tactics.

"Croatia should have won because they dominated that game. They missed a penalty and hit the crossbar, so they didn't have much luck, but I saw them play Brazil and how they played in that game was very good," he said. "I don't have doubts about their performance against Japan because I know what they can do. They gave a very different impression in the Brazil game."

Croatian coach Zlatko Kranjcar has signalled that he will use Stjepan Tomas to mark Australian striker Mark Viduka with first-choice Robert Kovac suspended. "He's [Tomas] been a good friend of mine," said Viduka on Tuesday. "When I came to play in Zagreb (in the mid-1990s) he and I were both on our own and we were living next to each other and hanging out every day. He's very special and I am very happy for him that he's going to be playing because everyone wants to play in the World Cup. But I will be going out there to win."

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