BY THE time the Socceroos kick off against Jordan in their World Cup qualifier in Amman tomorrow morning, they could find themselves eight points behind group leader Japan, piling pressure on Holger Osieck's side to get a result.
Japan has played an extra match but if it can take victory at home against Iraq six hours before Australia's match, it will effectively take an unassailable lead in the the quest for one of the two automatic qualification slots available from the five-team group.
With two draws from as many matches, Australia is on two points, level with Iraq and Oman and a point clear of Jordan, which has already been on the receiving end of a 6-0 battering from the Blue Samurai when they met in June.
However, it seems Jordan is a different side at home to the one that travels. In this campaign, it has already drawn 1-1 with Iraq, a team widely tipped to be the Socceroos' biggest threat for qualification. In the previous round of qualifying, Jordan comfortably accounted for China and Singapore at the Amman International Stadium.
Australian striker Robbie Kruse said his teammates were under no illusions about the kind of threat posed by the Jordanians, despite them being plundered by the Japanese. ''It's come to the point where it's vital for us to get the three points. It's going to be a tough test as well. The conditions are hard,'' Kruse said yesterday. ''Jordan are going to be a tough team to play against. So long as we prepare properly, hopefully we can get the win and put in a good performance as well.''
While little might normally be read into the scoreline of friendly matches, the Socceroos' win over Lebanon isn't being underestimated given that result snapped a four-game winless streak.
''I don't think we've really spoken about the winless run - every game we go out to win and we obviously didn't win in four games,'' Kruse said. ''It was a decent performance. Obviously it was not against the strongest of opponents but it's good to get the confidence up and to get three goals was great and we had some good structure.
''However the real test is on Tuesday, so hopefully we can work hard in training and stick to the plan that the boss wants and get the three points.''
While he struggled for game time last season with his club, German side Fortuna Dusseldorf, their promotion to the Bundesliga seems to have brought more opportunities for the former Brisbane and Melbourne striker. He's also every chance of starting tomorrow for the Socceroos, as he did against Lebanon, in a front three that could contain any combination of himself, Alex Brosque, Nikita Rukavytsya and Brett Holman, who has fully recovered from an ankle injury.