Socceroos tune up for crucial Syria clash

Key Socceroos midfielder Aaron Mooy may have had his pride dented after his Huddersfield Town team was taken apart by Tottenham this weekend, but the former Melbourne City man had little time to rest on his laurels.

Mooy had to head straight to the airport to travel to Malaysia, where he will join up with the national team squad for the crucial World Cup qualifier against Syria on Thursday, a match that has enormous ramifications for the game in this country.

At least Mooy can take some consolation from the fact that the Syrians, tough and competitive as they are, have no players of the quality that he faced at the weekend.

Harry Kane up front, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, Eric Dier and Harry Winks ran riot for Tottenham as they cruised to a 4-0 win.

The Australian was eventually subbed off in the second half as it became clear the Yorkshiremen were never going to get back into the match.

It was the first time the Premier League new boys had faced one of the league's real powerhouses, and it was a rude awakening for Mooy and crew.

At least he played and got game time, unlike his Socceroos squad mate Brad Smith, who once again did not figure for Bournemouth in their scoreless draw with Leicester.

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has often declared his belief in Smith's abilities and has picked him even when he has not been playing first team football, although the coach has also recalled Aziz Behich, another left-back, for the games against Syria.

Behich played for Bursaspor in their Turkish top division defeat to Kayserispor at the weekend, picking up a yellow card.

England-based Bailey Wright will arrive in Malaysia in a better frame of mind than Mooy after his Bristol City side won 3-1 at Ipswich. The team from the West Country, for whom Wright is a key defender, has now stretched its unbeaten run to 11 games.

He fared better than Massimo Luongo, whose Queens Park Rangers crashed 2-1 to Fulham in Friday night's West London derby, while Jackson Irvine was an unused substitute in Hull City's 6-1 romp against hapless Birmingham City, who made news recently by sacking their manager Harry Redknapp.

Mooy's midfield teammate Tom Rogic was in the Celtic team that uncharacteristically failed to secure all three points in a 2-2 draw with Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League.

Australia need to beat the Syrians over two legs (the second game is in Sydney on October 10) to progress to a final two-legged play-off against opponents from North or Central America - possibly the USA, Honduras or Panama depending on how that qualifying group finishes up.

This story Socceroos tune up for crucial Syria clash first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.