Australia - United Arab Emirates Preview

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou is arguably under more pressure than ever before as the Socceroos prepare to host United Arab Emirates on Tuesday night.

Having taken over the Socceroos at a very low ebb following back-to-back 6-0 defeats to Brazil and France, Postecoglou has generally had the support of the media and fans throughout his tenure.

But after four straight draws in World Cup qualifying and with Australia's hopes of qualifying directly for Russia 2018 delicately poised, the former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory coach needs his team to pull through at Allianz Stadium against a similarly misfiring UAE.

The Socceroos sit third in Group B on 10 points, three behind Saudi Arabia and Japan - who occupy the two automatic qualifying berths for next year's World Cup - and one ahead of Mahdi Ali's visitors to Sydney.

With three of their final four World Cup qualifiers at home, Australia's qualifying destiny remains in their hands but victory on Tuesday will be vital.

Last week's 1-1 draw away to Iraq with a new formation has prompted unprecedented criticism of Postecoglou.

Milligan likes Ange's 'effective' new formation

Just one win in 11 matches in 2014 soon after replacing Holger Osieck as Australia's boss was effectively ignored as Postecoglou attempted to rebuild the national team, while their success at the 2015 Asian Cup earned the ex-South Melbourne defender legend status.

Ange Postecoglou Australia v South Korea Asian Cup 31012015

Ange Postecoglou, Australia

But his undying commitment to attacking football and the Socceroos' stuttering performances against Japan, Thailand and Iraq in their past three games has seen the tide turn slightly against Postecoglou.

A win will undoubtedly sweep those doubts aside.

Iraq 1 Australia 1

Postecoglou is likely to make changes from the starting XI that took on Iraq but whether he discards the 3-4-3 formation with a box midfield that was used in Tehran - a target of criticism post-match -remains to be seen.

The UAE have arrived in Australia also desperate for three points after losing at home to Japan last week, with reports coach Ali is under pressure to keep his job.

Ahmed Khalil Japan v United Arab Emirates World Cup qualifying 01092016

Ahmed Khalil, United Arab Emirates

The Emiratis should have key striker Ahmed Khalil available again after he failed a fitness test to play Japan, while defender Ismail Ahmed and midfielder Tariq Ahmed are also expected to start.

Postecoglou: Australia struggled with Iraq

Ali is likely to use a 4-4-2 formation with Khalil and Ali Mabkhout up front and star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman roaming from the right flank.

There were some positives to be taken from Postecoglou's unconventional 3-4-3 against Iraq - Jackson Irvine showed plenty of attacking intent from midfield - but it's doubtful Mat Leckie and Robbie Kruse can be relied upon to provide defensive width throughout 90 minutes.

Critics calling on Australia to be more pragmatic are likely to be disappointed but with Postecoglou having previously preferred two strikers up front at home, a back four is likely to be utilised.

Unbeaten Socceroos still confident - Smith

The Socceroos' all-time leading scorer Tim Cahill could line up alongside Tomi Juric.

Tim Cahill Australia World Cup qualifying

Tim Cahill, Australia

In a blow to the home side's hopes, playmaker Aaron Mooy is suspended after picking up a yellow card against Iraq - his second of the qualifying campaign.

James Troisi or Mustafa Amini could replace Mooy, with Massimo Luongo potentially pushing further forward to forman attacking midfield trio one of themand Irvine in a 4-1-3-2.

UAE 0 Australia 1

Goal-scoring hasbeen a problem for Australia recently - five of their past six goals have come from corners or penalties - and the introduction of Cahill or Troisi could help the Socceroos on that front.

Cahill scored the winner the last time the Socceroos faced the UAE.



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