Australia coach Holger Osieck has cautioned against complacency after his team were handed a kind qualifying draw for the 2014 World Cup.The preliminary draw, conducted in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, saw the Socceroos placed in Group D of Asian third-round qualifying, alongside Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand.
Australia begin their campaign – with a place in the final two fourth-round groups at stake – at home to Thailand, a team 96 places below them in the FIFA rankings and seemingly an easy target for the Asian Cup finalists.
But German Osieck, who succeeded Pim Verbeek as head coach in August 2010, dismissed any suggestion that his team were guaranteed a place in Brazil next year.
“There are a lot of strong teams in Asia right now. We know that from experience,” Osieck said.
“You shouldn’t underrate the teams we will play in the group, they all went through the second round, they qualified, so they must have some potential.”
“Take for instance the Asian Cup when we had India … it was important for us to go into the tournament, play well, score a couple of goals and build our confidence.”
“And the same happens here – we will definitely have the best team available.”
While attempting to play down expectations of a swift passage to the fourth round, Osieck did endorse the ability of his players, calling on them to demonstrate their quality with a flying start in the first match on September 2.
“Our target is simply to go through to Brazil,” he said.
“We are at the first stage, so we have to take every single step very seriously.”
“Football is not a wishing well, and you can’t predicate anything. It would be an ideal scenario that we could make the qualification for the second round as early as possible, but there’s a lot of unpredictability.”
“What I don’t like in football is to calculate. First we play, then we go from there.”
“I’m a positive thinker. I want to see our guys play. We have a lot of potential; I want to see them perform. It’s very important to have a very positive start to the campaign and … to really build on the confidence we should be in from that first game.”