Mark Bresciano: fighting back to full fitness. Photo: AFP
Vitoria: Australia's emphasis in this World Cup might be on youth and relative inexperience, but captain Mile Jedinak and influential midfielder Tommy Oar both agree that if the Socceroos are to perform to their optimum then the contributions of two veterans are crucial.
The duo see the return from injury of Mark Bresciano, who moved freely and looked sharp in training on Monday, and the warhorse Tim Cahill as vital components of the Australian side as it looks to upset the applecart against Chile on Friday (Saturday morning AEST).
Tim Cahill: a vital part of the Socceroos team. Photo: Getty Images
Jedinak admitted that when Bresciano was battling to get his body right in the first few days in Brazil he was asking the former Serie A forward on a daily basis how near or far away he was, so important does he see him in his team.
And Oar quite simply says that if he and his colleagues can ensure Cahill a good supply of crosses, then ''Tim will score''.
Oar, a fresh-faced 22 year old who has been in The Netherlands for several seasons having come through at Brisbane Roar, was used in Bresciano's place as a makeshift playmaker in the 1-0 loss to Croatia. But the feeling persists that the Queenslander is more potent deployed wide on the left of the attacking midfield group.
He says he has no preference.
''I enjoy both roles for different reasons. On the left wing I enjoy it because you can get balls into the box, especially when you have someone like Timmy in there who is always attacking the ball, its fantastic.
''In the number 10 role you can find yourself in between the lines, so I enjoy that as well. Where- ever is best for the team I am happy to play.''
Oar agrees with Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou's analysis of the performance against Croatia - that if Australia had had more composure in the forward third, and moved the ball more quickly, it might have got something out of the game.
''We were very organised at the back against Croatia. They had some fantastic players playing but they struggled to break us down, and I think we got into good areas quite regularly and if we had a better final ball or were a bit sharper in the final third we could have created a lot of problems for them. We worked a lot on that in training today,'' he said on Monday.
''I think all things are positive going into the first game and we can approach it with a lot of confidence. On Friday (against Croatia) we lacked getting early balls into the box. We took too long to dwell on the ball. Today in training we put some quick balls in, and we know if we can do that, Timmy is going to score.''
Oar says there are no nerves in the Socceroos camp ahead of such a big game as the team feels it has nothing to lose.
''We know all the pressure will be on Chile going into the first game so we are looking forward trying to take the game to the opposition and showing everyone what we are made of. The weight of expectation will be on them. They know if they don't get a good result against us in the first game their backs will be against the wall. For us we can go into the game with a lot of confidence and really take it up to them.
''Within the group there is confidence (that Australia can cause an upset). We really believe what Ange is trying to do, we are improving with every time we train, we know we are definitely capable of surprising our opponents and I think if you look at our last games, every time we have got better and better.''
Oar and Jedinak are both delighted to have Bresciano back in contention.
''Its fantastic. He has so much experience, this will be his third World Cup and he brings a lot of rest on the ball and composure on the field, its great that he's getting fit.''
Jedinak added: ''.. I am asking him everyday how he's doing and he says he's doing well and coming along well. You can see it today, he's moving freely and getting in on the ball. Its very encouraging.
''Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there and play an important part in a crucial game for us.''