MIDFIELD ACE: Massimo Luongo of the Socceroos in action against Kyrgyzstan in November.
MIDFIELD ACE: Massimo Luongo of the Socceroos in action against Kyrgyzstan in November. LUKAS COCH

Postecoglou keeping cards close to chest

FOOTBALL: Massimo Luongo says he wants to start for the Socceroos against Iraq tonight but will do whatever job Ange Postecoglou asks of him in the opening Asian World Cup qualifier.

The QPR midfielder is expected to battle for a place in the starting XI at Perth's nib Stadium with Celtic's Tom Rogic.

The player of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup was once a shoo-in but with Rogic's recent form, Luongo may have to settle for a place on the bench.

But while he would love to be in the starting XI, he understands just what has to be done as the World Cup qualifying campaign kicks off.

"It doesn't matter, it's just whoever gets picked on the day,” he said.

"I don't see myself as competing against anybody in a particular ... I turn up to do a job regardless if I am starting or if I am not.

"Of course I want to play and to start games but I don't get too carried away.

"Everybody has things they are good and not so good at.

"The biggest teams in the world have that, so it's a good thing. We're in a good place as a national team right now.”

Luongo said the Socceroos needed to get off on the right foot with points tonight against Iraq and next week against the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi.

"It's do-or-die time now,” he said.

"The squad the manager has picked shows he doesn't want to take any chances, and wants to put the best squad forward regardless of who he picks on the day.

"He wants to prove a point in these qualifiers and also get the job done.

"We have good experience among what is a young squad ... I feel we are well equipped with the right people to do the job.

"Whoever gets picked on the day ... everybody offers something different, which is a good thing.

"There's a good balance there.

"If the game goes one way, he has options to make subs whether we are winning or losing, and that can make a difference.

"He has lots of options ... and it all works for the better.”

Luongo said even players were in the dark when it came to starting line-ups, so tonight's opponent would struggle to know just how the Socceroos coach was going to approach the clash.

"If teams analyse us the way we analyse them they will have all sorts of problems,” he said.

"They can't really dwell too much on how to counter any one player because that player might easily not play and another person could just as easily come in.

"If they do their homework on us, they will most probably be in for it because anybody can come in and everybody possesses something different.”

Tonight's game is the first of 10 World Cup qualifiers to be played in the next 12 months as the Socceroos look to qualify for their fourth consecutive World Cup finals.

They face Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Thailand - home and away - with the top two teams winning a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

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