If Australia has learned the lessons of its disastrous debut at
the Asian Cup, beating defending champion Iraq in Saturday’s
quarterfinal will go a long way to proving it.
Four years ago, the Australian team was derided as overconfident
and under-prepared as it lost a penalty shootout to Japan in the
last eight. It only scrambled that far after a draw with Oman and a
defeat against Saturday’s opponent Iraq in the group stage.
Captain Lucas Neill said Friday that Australia is ”a different
team from four years ago,” while Iraq coach Wolfgang Sidka
acknowledged his team would have to close ”a big gap” against
Asia’s top-ranked team.