BANGKOK – Australia coach Scott Gilligan admitted he will make changes for the top-of-the-table clash with Japan at Nimibutr Stadium after his side confirmed their passage to the quarter-finals with a game to spare.
A comprehensive 6-0 victory over Chinese Taipei saw Australia pick up their second win in Group B and Japan’s 4-1 triumph over Turkmenistan later in the day confirmed their place in the last eight.It did not come without cost, however, as keeper Peter Spathis was dismissed for a professional foul meaning he will be suspended for an encounter that will determine who will finish top of the standings.
But with Kyrgyzstan or Thailand presenting a similar challenge in the last eight, Gilligan will use the Japan clash to tinker with his line-up ahead of the knockout stages.
“I’ll probably rest some of the players and obviously the other keeper will play,” he said.
“It’s a game where we can experiment a little but it’s also a great hit out for us because Japan are a fantastic side.
“They are very quick and with their speed, I think they have a lot of tactical nous, so we have to be on our game.”
Lachlan Wright was the architect of the Chinese Taipei win and Gilligan admitted the skipper will prove crucial to Australia’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals and beyond.
“It’s funny because Lachlan’s probably not as fit as he should be at this moment so imagine what he could do if he was,” he added.
“When he’s up, he lifts everyone around him. He’s quite good at taking people on with a turn of pace. It makes a big difference.”
Japan coach Sergio Sapo, meanwhile, was giving little away ahead of the clash insisting he had not yet given it any thought.
However, with fatigue and sickness affecting their camp, the Brazilian could be tempted to make changes in a similar vein to their opponents with one eye on peaking during the knockout phase.
In the other game, Turkmenistan take on Chinese Taipei in a dead rubber where both sides will be searching for their first win of the competition.
Turkmenistan start as favourites having troubled both Japan and Australia in patches over their first two games, leading coach Eldar Ramazanov to declare: “I’m sure we’ll win it.”
Chinese Taipei, on the other hand, have leaked 14 goals in two encounters, on top of which they have been plagued by sickness in the camp, leading coach Chen Kuel-jen to not raise expectations too high.
“We still have a chance, but players are getting sick so maybe we’ll have more chance if they recover,” he said.
Source : www.the-AFC.com
Published : 13/5/2008