The Socceroos may be feeling on edge about their place in the side but coach Ange Postecoglou plans to keep his poker face on and leave them in the dark about what cards they’ll be dealt.
Postecoglou put his entire squad through their paces on Wednesday as they prepare to face Costa Rica at Allianz Stadium next week.
Tim Cahill was the only player in the 22-man squad to miss the session after his flight to Sydney was cancelled, forcing him to arrive on Thursday.
Postecoglou is yet to name a captain for Tuesday’s clash and hasn’t given much away when it comes to his starting 11.
And that’s just the way the two-time A-League championship-winning coach plans to keep it.
Speaking at the event marking 40 years to the day since Australia first qualified for a World Cup, Postecoglou said the current crop should be reminded of the honour that comes with representing their nation.
“There is obviously a bit of uncertainty there but maybe I sort of cultivate a bit of that as well – it keeps people on their toes,” he said on Wednesday.
“They won’t get all the answers in this camp.
“We were part of something today that shows just what it means to play for your country and that will be at the essence of everything we do.
“It’s not an entitlement it’s an absolute privilege and it’s something that you need to continually strive for and not take for granted.
“I plan to have an environment that hopefully has the players on edge the whole journey.
“It may be a game of poker but I pretty much know what everyone is holding, so I’m in a good spot.”
Long-time skipper Lucas Neill is by no means assured of leading the team but has made it clear he’s still up to the task.
And Postecoglou says that’s the kind of drive he expects to see from his players.
“I’d be disappointed if he felt any other way,” he said.
“I’d be more worried if he was resigned to something rather than saying ‘I want to prove that I should still be here and can still lead the team or play in the team’ and that goes for every player.
“I spoke to them as a group for the first time this morning and the message was pretty clear that I really want to be surrounded by driven people, ambitious people with the same mindset that I have.”
Standing in the same room as members the 1973 squad along with his counterpart, then coach Rale Rasic, Postecoglou recalled watching his “hero” Jimmy Mackay slot home the goal that secured Australia a spot at the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.
He said while there’s still a lot of work to be done, he hopes to create similar lasting memories during his tenure starting with a win on Tuesday.
“We start with winning and work backwards,” he said.
“We want to achieve a lot of things but there’s a game there to be won.
“They’re going to be a tough opponent, they’ve qualified for the World Cup and we need to be able to compete against teams like that in seven months time.
“I’m confident we’ll see some foundations laid and certainly the message will be to go out there and try to win.”