SYDNEY (AP) — Skipper Lucas Neill says his Australian squad's full focus is on beating Iraq in their last Asian qualifier to guarantee direct entry to next year's World Cup, so the Socceroos aren't practicing the samba yet.
Australia can secure the second automatic qualifying spot in Group B with a win over Iraq in Sydney on Tuesday night, and Neill says the mood is "very calm" after the Socceroos revived their campaign with an away draw against first-place Japan and last week's 4-0 win over Jordan.
Manager Holger Osieck "and the senior players have made sure no one's talking about dancing the samba," Neill told a news conference Monday. "Nobody's in Brazil yet.
"We need one game, one win. Then we can start thinking about all the dreams coming true."
Osieck said he had all 26 players in the squad available for the Sydney match. But he is unlikely to tamper with the lineup which has started to gel in the last three weeks. Australia qualified for the 2006 and 2010 World Cups and is only one victory away from ensuring it makes it three in a row.
Iraq's qualifying hopes ended last week in a defeat to already-qualified Japan in Doha, and the 2007 Asian champions will be missing captain and striker Younis Mahmood and veteran midfielder organizer Nashat Akram, who didn't travel to Australia.
If Iraq can win or draw in Sydney, Australia's progress will depend on the later match in Amman between Jordan and Oman.
But the Australians will have enormous support in the game, with more than 80,000 people expected to pack the 2000 Sydney Olympics stadium.
Australia's scoring talisman Tim Cahill has already received a temporary honor, with one of the city's landmark roads along the Sydney Harbour named in his honor — at least until midnight Tuesday.
The Cahill Expressway, named after the former state premier who opened it in 1958, was on Monday renamed the "Tim Cahill Expressway" for a couple of days.
"Tim is one of our greatest Socceroos," New South Wales state premier Barry O'Farrell noted Monday as he made the announcement. "If he scores tomorrow night against Iraq, Tim will equal the record for the most number of goals in Socceroos history."
Cahill said he was "extremely grateful and humbled" by the gesture.
The match against Iraq "is a huge night for the Socceroos and for me personally, as we push to qualify for Brazil 2014," he said.