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Postecoglou urges Australia to utilise home advantage against Syria

Australia's Mathew Leckie and Syria's Khaled Al Mbayed fight for the ball.

Australia's Mathew Leckie and Syria's Khaled Al Mbayed fight for the ball.

Boss Ange Postecoglou has told his globe-trotting Australia players to make use of home comforts in Tuesday night's World Cup play-off with Syria.

The Socceroos were held to a 1-1 draw in last Thursday's first leg, but victory in Sydney will take them into the intercontinental play-off for a place at Russia 2018.

Postecoglou, whose players are based in Europe, Asia and Australia, told a press conference: "When 80 per cent of the squad play abroad, just playing at home gives the players a lift.

"It's a chance to play in front of family and friends and also a home crowd."

Australia won the 2015 Asian Cup at ANZ Stadium and are seeking further success in their bid to qualify for a fourth successive World Cup finals.

"There's a massive prize at stake," Postecoglou added.

"We've had some great memories here at this stadium, not just the Asian Cup Final.

"Tomorrow night's an opportunity for us to create another great moment in a fantastic stadium where we've got a great history."

A scoreless draw or victory would see Australia progress to a play-off against the fourth-placed side in North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF).

That appears likely to be either Panama or Honduras.

The Socceroos took a first-leg lead through Robbie Kruse's first-half strike, but the failure to build on their advantage proved costly in Melaka, Malaysia, Syria's temporary home.

Omar al Soma equalised five minutes from time to give the war-torn country hope of staying in contention for a place at next year's World Cup.

Forward Omar Khribin is suspended after receiving a yellow card last Thursday, while Firas al Khatib could come into the starting line-up.

Mosab Balhous, Syria's record appearance maker, reckons his compatriots can advance.

The now retired goalkeeper told the-AFC.com: "We can go through to the next round. This will come as a result of the spirit, desire and determination of the players."

 

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