SOCCEROOS boss Ange Postecoglou has slammed the state of the pitch at Tehran's PAS Stadium, warning it will harm his side's attempts to play their usual style in Thursday night's (AEST) World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
Branding the surface as worse than the widely condemned pitch in Bangkok where Australia drew 2-2 last November, Postecoglou said his side will not change their game plan against Iraq, although it will be a factor in his team selection.
Predicting that tomorrow's crucial encounter would be a "battle of 50-50 challenges", Postecoglou said his team would comprise "the fittest 11 we've got here", to avoid Iraq besting Australia physically.
The qualifier will be played at the 8250-capacity venue thanks to FIFA's continued ban on Iraq playing matches at home for security reasons, and Postecoglou described it as "ordinary", though some Australian officials believe it is scarcely international class.
"That's going to be an issue, especially the way we play our game," Postecoglou said.
"But you kind of say, what do you do? Do you adjust your game for just one result or do you stick to your principles?
"Maybe that's me being stubborn but I just like to stick to our principles and still be successful doing it our way. That does pose problems with the way we want to play our football.
"The one thing we will factor into it is the 11 we put out on Thursday will be probably the fittest 11 we've got here, because we know it's going to be a bit of a battle of 50-50 challenges.
"There won't be a lot of times where things will be running smoothly. In terms of our approach, we'll just try and play the same way and try and find our solutions in our game."
Postecoglou's desire for fitness in the starting XI means several late decisions will be made, including who will replace the injured Tom Rogic as the team's playmaker.
Aaron Mooy is the logical choice and Postecoglou said the loss of Rogic needn't be a significant blow for the side in the wake of his recent performances.
"I don't think he's that big a loss because if you look at Tommy's performances last year, they weren't anything exceptional for us," he said.
"They were for Celtic (but) I think he's still learning to be an international footballer.
"We sometimes want things too quickly from some of our players and Tommy, the last calendar year, it was the first time really he's had any sort of run in the national team and I think with the whole places we've played in, particularly away from home where conditions were really tough for players like him.
"I don't think he was as influential as he can be or as I think he will be as he matures more as an international footballer. I don't think there was a reliance on him to say he's a massive loss at this stage but certainly I think he'll add to what we're doing.
"We saw some moments last year, particularly in the home games, where he showed the kind of player he can be for us."
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