SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras, Nov 7 – Aziz Behich says Australia will be ready to cope with an intimidating atmosphere here Friday when the Socceroos face Honduras in the first leg of their crucial World Cup playoff.
Australia will take on Honduras in the 40,000-capacity Olimpico Metropolitano Stadium in San Pedro Sula, a town once regarded as the deadliest city in Honduras because of violence linked to the drug trade.
The Central Americans are aiming to qualify for the World Cup for a third straight tournament, and have often benefited from ferocious home support at the venue in the past.
Behich, however, says Australia will be ready for anything the Honduras crowd can dish out in the CONCACAF-Asia playoff.
“Most of the boys have played in big hostile environments,” the defender said.
“We’ve done that with the national team during the qualifiers in some parts of Asia,” he told Football Federation Australia’s television channel on Monday.
“It’s going to be nothing new for us, and in some ways, it’s exciting — it’s all part of football and we’re just going to go out on the park, we know what job we have to do and what the end prize is — qualifying for the World Cup.
“It’s not going to be easy, but we’re full of confidence.”
Behich started in the away leg of Australia’s Asia zone playoff against Syria in the previous round, and eventually won 3-2 on aggregate by the Socceroos after a tense return leg in Sydney.
The 26-year-old says Australia will benefit from having already passed their playoff test against the Syrians.
“The boys were full of confidence going into those game and coming out of them it’s a big boost going into these Honduras games,” Behich said.
Fellow squad member Craig Goodwin, who plays for Dutch side Sparta Rotterdam, also thinks Australia will derive a competitive edge from having successfully navigated the Syria challenge.
“It’s a little bit of an advantage,” Goodwin said. “It’s not the way we wanted to go through to the World Cup. But playing against Syria over the two legs was a good test and they’re a good team.
“But we have a good squad and good quality in the team. It’s going to be tough but I think we have the squad to get to the World Cup.”