Oman the Socceroos’ focus, says Kennedy
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While the eyes of Asia are fixed on Australia’s looming World Cup qualifying heavyweight clash with Japan in Brisbane, Josh Kennedy is more worried about the Socceroos’ first-up challenge in Oman.
The final phase of Australia’s World Cup qualifying journey starts with travel to Muscat – and the peak of the Arabian summer – on June 8.
While lanky striker Kennedy, a standout with Japanese club Nagoya Grampus since 2009, is looking forward to taking on his J-League counterparts on Australian soil on June 12, the challenge of the Omanis is foremost in his mind.
Oman, buoyed by their first phase 1-0 triumph over Australia in November, will host the Socceroos in conditions that, at their worst, could reach 40C.
Kennedy warns that match will be a big challange for several reasons.
“I think we’ve seen that we can’t underestimate anyone,” said Kennedy.
“They (Oman) will think they can do the same thing (beat Australia) obviously, they did it last time.
“It’s going to be tough conditions as well with the weather, and a lot of the boys now, from Europe, are in an off-season.
“All these little things that we really need to concentrate on, we need to come together as a team and do it.”
Domestically, Kennedy has been making the most of a stop-start campaign in the J.League, where he has missed the odd game due to a back injury.
Now recovering from his early season ailment, Kennedy has been in sound goal-scoring touch for his club – netting three times this season – after slotting eight goals in green and gold throughout 2011.
One of the more prolific marksmen chosen by coach Holger Osieck in the 30-man Socceroos squad for next month’s matches, Kennedy will share goal-scoring responsibilities with experienced trio Tim Cahill, Brett Holman and Harry Kewell, along with emerging stars Robbie Kruse and Nikita Rukavytsya.
“I guess it gets down to the serious end of it all, every game counts and you can’t slip up,” said Kennedy.
“I definitely want to be a part of things and just like in the last round of qualification, help the team win games, score goals and get us through to Brazil.
“Obviously there is still a few old faces from when I was first involved. I also think there’s enough talent coming through to carry us on past this World Cup and the next one.
“It’s an exciting time.”
Since missing the 2011 Asian Cup through injury, Kennedy has regained his standing as one of the Socceroos’ cornerstone members under new boss Osieck.
After nine years playing in Germany, bilingual Kennedy has evidently struck up a good working relationship with German Osieck.
“I like it (working with Osieck) very much, to be honest,” said Kennedy, who has found the back of the net eight times from as many appearances under Osieck.
“I think I understand him maybe a little bit more than the others with his German, but he’s enjoyable to work under.
“He’s honest and he gets down to business and doesn’t muck around.”© AAP 2013