Neill Urges Crowds To Will Australia To Brazil

by
Reuters
After experiencing the atmosphere that "sucked the ball into the net" in Saitama, Australia captain Lucas Neill has demanded local crowds emulate their Japanese counterparts at the Socceroos' final two World Cup qualifiers at home.

After experiencing the atmosphere that "sucked the ball into the net" in Saitama, Australia captain Lucas Neill has demanded local crowds emulate their Japanese counterparts at the Socceroos' final two World Cup qualifiers at home.

Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil on Tuesday courtesy of a 1-1 draw after Keisuke Honda converted an injury-time penalty to clinch one of the two automatic qualifying spots from Group B.

"That crowd helped them keep going," Neill said of the 62,000 passionate home fans at Saitama Stadium on Saturday.

"I think they proverbially sucked the ball into the net tonight to get them to the World Cup.

"I think we need the same. You get the noise, the colour and everybody willing the team on it makes a big difference and we have players who thrive on that.

"We need the Australian supporters behind us. We all want to go to Brazil and the supporters need to play their part."

The draw against Japan moved Australia to seven points, two points behind second-placed Oman and with a game in hand.

The Socceroos' hopes of qualifying for a third successive World Cup remain in their hands, but their campaign has stuttered in the final phase in Asia with four draws.

Despite taking a valuable point from Saitama, Australia were disappointed not to take three after Tommy Oar put them ahead in the 81st minute.

"Before the game you will take the point. But as the game panned out I felt we deserved all three," Neill said.

"It's a bitter pill to swallow because (the penalty) happened in the last minute and it's a penalty and they didn't really trouble us in the second half.

"We felt we could have spoiled the party and three points is probably what we deserved."

The Socceroos host Jordan, who beat a New Zealand 'A' team 1-0 in Auckland in a warm-up on Tuesday, in Melbourne on June 11 and Neill said the game could ultimately determine their World Cup future.

"The Jordan game is a must-win, or must-not-lose and ... we will know exactly what we need to do to get to Brazil," Neill added.

The Socceroos' final World Cup qualifier is against bottom-placed Iraq (five points) on June 18 in Sydney.

The team that finishes third in the five-team group can still qualify for Brazil, but must win a two-legged playoff against the equivalent finisher in Group A before another playoff against the fifth-placed team in South America.