Socceroos World Cup hopes in doubt

Amad Al Hosni of Oman is brought down after a challenge from Robbie Cornthwaite. Photo / Getty Images
Amad Al Hosni of Oman is brought down after a challenge from Robbie Cornthwaite. Photo / Getty Images

Socceroos coach Holger Osieck has warned a raft of changes loom in his squad after Australia were held to a 2-2 draw with Oman in their crucial World Cup qualifier on Tuesday.

Staring down the barrel of a 2-0 loss after 50 minutes, deadly aerialist Tim Cahill brought the game to life for Australia with his goal in the 51st minute while a Brett Holman missile levelled the score in the 85th.

The 105-ranked Oman stunned the Socceroos early with a goal through Abdul Aziz seven minutes in, while disaster struck right after the break with Mile Jedinak netting an own goal.

The draw leaves Australia's World Cup hopes hanging in the balance with the world No.37 side only just holding on to second spot in their group but level on points with Oman and seven points behind runaway leaders Japan, with only the top two teams securing an automatic berth to next year's showpiece.

"It was definitely not what we expected. We had different hopes going into that game but unfortunately the first half did not go to plan and we almost had to pay dearly for that," Osieck said.

"In the second half you could see that spirit was back, the boys really tried to turn things around.

"But it's a 2-2 draw and we have to live with that right now."

Australia had a woeful start to the match, sluggish and easily dispossessed by a well organised Oman until Cahill's goal after the break sparked the side into action.

The former Everton striker was a one-man show, brilliant in the air with several dangerous headers drawing superb saves from Oman's 'keeper Ali Al Habsi, who also had a stellar night.

It was a different story for Perth Glory defender Michael Thwaite who Osieck boldly partnered with with Robert Cornthwaite in the centre of defence in suspended skipper Lucas Neill's absence.

Thwaite was easily outpaced by Aziz in the opening minutes of the match, with the Omani striker silencing the 34,600-strong crowd at ANZ Stadium with his ensuing goal.

The result now puts pressure on Australia's next qualifier away to Japan in June.

"We have to display a better performance next time ... I definitely will have to consider who will be on the next trip to Japan," Osieck said.

"We have to get a result in Japan that's for sure."

James Holland was an other surprise starter, preferred to Mark Bresciano as Jedinak's holding midfield partner.

Bresciano came off the bench and made an instant impact only to suffer a knee injury after a short stint.

Oman coach Paul Le Guen while happy to get a point was left feeling his side had let a win slip through their fingers.

"It's quite a good result but when you lead 2-0 you expect more, you dream," he said.

He described Cahill as "one of the best players in the air".

"We were unable to compete in the air with Cahill ... he's very difficult to control," he said.

- AAP

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