Australia confident of avenging play-off defeat

October 12, 2005

SYDNEY, Oct 13 (Reuters) - Australian soccer officials are confident their team can avenge their heartbreaking loss to Uruguay four years ago and qualify for next year's World Cup.

The two countries were once again drawn together to decide one of the last available places at the World Cup after Uruguay beat Argentina 1-0 on Wednesday to secure fifth place in the South American standings.

Australia won the Oceania division.

The first leg of their playoff will be held at Montevideo on November 12 with the return match in Sydney four days later.

'Uruguay will undoubtedly prove to be a very tough opponent,' FFA chief executive John O'Neill said in a statement.

'However the Socceroos under coach Guus Hiddink are well prepared and this is arguably our best chance to qualify for the world's biggest sporting event.

'We are all hoping that November 16 will prove to be one of those defining moments in Australian sporting history.'

The Australians looked to be on their way to their first World Cup appearance since 1974 when they beat Uruguay 1-0 in the opening leg in Melbourne four years ago, only to lose the second leg 3-0 in South America.

Hiddink, who recently replaced Frank Farina as coach, said his players would be better prepared this time around but still could not afford to underestimate Uruguay.

'To finish in fifth place in South America means that Uruguay is a powerhouse nation,' Hiddink said.

'We have improved and will need to continue to improve to challenge Uruguay.

'Some of the squad were there four years ago so they know what to expect, they have experienced the conditions they will be playing under.'