Former Socceroos skipper Craig Moore is set for an immediate national team comeback in the World Cup qualifier against Qatar at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday.
It is believed coach Pim Verbeek is leaning towards pairing Moore and Lucas Neill in the heart of defence to combat Qatar’s deadly striker Sebastian Soria Quintana, with Chris Coyne to miss out.
Verbeek also has to decide how to structure his midfield in the absence of Harry Kewell, Vince Grella, Carl Valeri and Mark Bresciano.
But left-sided attacker David Carney is expected to get a call-up to play in front of left back Scott Chipperfield, and giant striker Josh Kennedy is also set for a recall as Verbeek attempts to use an aerial assault which has worked well in two previous wins over the Qataris.
The Dutchman would not reveal his starting 11 nor the final 18-man squad he will choose from his 28 players, but indicated Moore was set to get the nod in some capacity for the top-of-the-table Group A clash.
“We know his experience, he’s a good guy in the group, and it’s good to have him back,” Verbeek said of Moore, who has reversed a decision earlier this year to quit international football.
Verbeek said his big quandary was how much risk to take, but he had a message for Socceroos supporters – be patient and the goals will come.
“On one hand, we have to take risks and score goals, and as early as possible,” Verbeek said.
“On the other hand you have to be very alert that they don’t surprise you and score.
“It’s all about the balance. How much risk are we going to take to win this game?
“My players know they will have to be patient. It is not about scoring after 45 minutes or 30 minutes, it is about 90 minutes.
“The fans like to see an early lead, but if it doesn’t work at once, they will have to be patient, because we will score.”
Australia beat Qatar 3-0 in Melbourne in February and 3-1 in Doha in June in the previous stage of World Cup qualifying.
But since then Frenchman Bruno Metsu, who masterminded Senegal’s remarkable march to the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals, has taken over as Qatar coach from the ill Jorge Fossati.
Qatar lead Group A from Australia, though they have played two games for a win and a draw while the Socceroos have won their only match – a 1-0 victory over Uzbekistan in Tashkent last month.
The top two teams in the group qualify directly for the 2010 World Cup finals.
Stay tuned for updates as the game progresses.