Emerton backing Socceroos to beat Iraq for World Cup spot
BRETT Emerton may still have ambitions of fighting his way back into the Socceroos team, but as long as the team is winning he is happy just to watch.
Emerton, who last represented his country in December 2012, has a burning desire to add to his 95 caps in time for next year's World Cup in Brazil, if the Aussies make it.
And after last week's outstanding 4-0 win against Jordan in Melbourne, the Socceroos will book their place in the final 32 with a victory against Iraq in Sydney tonight.
Emerton said he could not speak highly enough of the way the team was playing, particularly the likes of attacking right midfielder Robbie Kruse.
The 24-year-old was the deserved man of the match last week, scoring a brilliant goal and producing two assists.
"Robbie was a danger all night with his smart forward running. That is what the opposition doesn't want," Emerton said.
"Playing in a fantastic league like the Bundesliga has done wonders for his game, without a doubt."
Emerton was also quick to praise Mark Bresciano, who was outstanding as a holding midfielder in the qualifiers against Japan and Jordan, scoring against the Jordanians.
"He's done exceptionally well since returning to the team (after suffering knee and foot injuries against Oman in March). He's such an important part of the team, and his passing game is excellent," Emerton said.
Echoing the thoughts of skipper Lucas Neill, the 34-year-old Emerton said it would be a mistake to underestimate the Iraqis, despite the fact their 1-0 loss to Japan last week ended any hopes they had of qualifying for Brazil.
"They've got some very talented players. Their technical ability is good and they can be unpredictable," he said.
"We need to score early. If we do that, it'll be game over I think."
The Socceroos' cause will be helped by the absence of captain Younis Mahmoud and talanted midfielder Nashat Akram due to disagreements with the Iraq Football Association.
Key attacking midfielder Alaa Abdul-Zahra was sent off against Japan and will be unavailable for tonight's clash.
The Iraqi team has gone through a period of instability since its Brazilian coach Zico resigned in November 2012 after being told by IFA officials he had to spend more time in the country.
Youth coach Hakeem Shaker was appointed on an interim basis before ex-China boss Vladimir Petrovic took control in February.
It is believed many players in the squad are concerned about the direction the team is being taken.
Fans have also expressed their anger and protests are possible at ANZ Stadium tonight.
As many as five members of the country's youth side, which qualified for the 2013 FIFA U20 World Cup, are expected to be involved against the Socceroos.
If the Aussies lose or draw tonight, the team could miss out on automatic qualification for Brazil if Oman beats Jordan.