The West

Perth is in the running to host a Socceroos World Cup qualifier against Thailand, Saudi Arabia or Oman as Football Federation Australia moves to confirm the venues for the first phase of matches on the road to Brazil 2014.

Socceroos boss Holger Osieck seems set to wheel out the nation's highest profile players at every possible opportunity during an initial qualifying phase that should prove to be a relatively comfortable ride.

The five group winners and runners-up qualify for the final phase of Asian qualification from which four teams will go to Brazil.

Osieck, who took charge of the Socceroos after Pim Verbeek vacated the position following last year's World Cup, will not be taking lightly Australia's opponents, revealed during Saturday night's draw in Rio de Janeiro, and will call on some of the Socceroos' big guns.

"There are a lot of strong teams in Asia right now, we know that from experience, so I think you shouldn't underrate the teams that we have in our group," he said.

"Saudi look pretty strong to me, but you never know where you stand with a team like Oman or even Thailand.

"You have to consider they are all coached by international coaches who have all had successful teams before, so I think they will try to introduce that in these teams."

Osieck rejected suggestions he could rely on local players for Australia's first qualifier at home to Thailand on September 2.

"That would put in us in a position that we would be underrating this team," he said.

"We definitely will have the best team available. Our task is to simply go through to Brazil. We are now in the first stage, so we have to take every step very seriously."

WA soccer's peak body, Football West, has been pressing to host a World Cup qualifier and should learn this month whether their wish has been granted.

Chief executive Peter Hugg said Football West was close to securing an Olympic qualifying match between Australia and the United Arab Emirates on September 21.

"Further discussions regarding an Olyroos match have taken place between the FFA and nib Stadium last week," Hugg said. "In the meantime, we will also keep pushing for a World Cup qualifying match."

Just four days after the Socceroos' opener against Thailand, they face potentially their toughest assignment with an away match against Saudi Arabia.

Australia host Oman on October 11 before the reverse fixture on November 11. A trip to face Thailand is scheduled for November 15 and the first phase of Asian qualification finishes at home to Saudi Arabia on February 29 next year.



The West Australian

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