Australia coach Frank Farina hopes that a positive result against Brian Kerr’s undefeated side will strengthen the Oceania region’s case for an automatic berth at the next World Cup finals.
“If we can continue to get good results against quality opposition, it will strengthen our argument that we do deserve something and FIFA will take a closer look at us,” Farina told Australia television last weekend. “Hopefully that will be the case.”
Sizing up the enormous challenge the Socceroos, who expect to be led by forwards Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, face on the Emerald Isle, Farina added:
“In Damien Duff and Robbie Keane [Ireland] have got some quality players and I’m expecting most probably a tougher game than we had against England.”
Australia stunned England 3-1 in London but should find the Republic a different kettle of fish altogether.
Ireland are unbeaten in six matches under Kerr, who took over the reins from Mick McCarthy last January.
For next week’s friendly, a tune-up for his side’s penultimate Euro 2004 qualifier against Russia at Lansdowne Road on Sept. 6, Kerr has summoned all his big names.
They include Duff, Keane, striker Clinton Morrison, John O’Shea, goalie Shay Given and Steve Finnan.
The Irish are in second place in Group 10 of the Euro 2004 qualifying competition, two points behind leaders Switzerland and three ahead of the Russians, who have a game in hand.
Victory over Russia, who won the corresponding fixture 4-2 in Moscow last year, will almost certainly assure Ireland of a playoff spot and put them in a good position to top the group when they travel to Switzerland for their final qualifier on Oct. 11.
The full Irish squad called up to prepare for the Australia match is: Shay Given, Nick Colgan, Joseph Murphy, John O’Shea, Stephen Carr, Kenny Cunningham, Gary Breen, Andy O’Brien, Ian Harte, Richard Dunne, Steve Finnan, Lee Carsley, Colin Healy, Matt Holland, Mark Kinsella, Kevin Kilbane, Stephen Reid, Quinn, Damien Duff, Gary Doherty, Robbie Keane, Clinton Morrison and Dave Connolly.