Le Roy plots Oman surprise for Aussies

MELBOURNE: Coach Claude Le Roy says Oman have a healthy respect for Australia and hope to catch them by surprise in their AFC Asian Cup qualifier here on Wednesday.

The Australians are Asia's top-ranked nation at 14 and are 60 places ahead of the tiny Gulf sultanate, but trail Oman in their qualifying group and need a win to get back into contention for the 2011 Asian Cup finals.

Much-travelled Frenchman Le Roy, 61, faces one of his biggest tactical battles with Australia counterpart Pim Verbeek to get a precious draw or even an unexpected win to consolidate their place at the top of group standings.

"We have a lot of respect for this Australian team," Le Roy told reporters here on Tuesday. "They are not 14 in the world by chance.

"After playing the Netherlands (in Sydney last Saturday), we hope they are a little bit tired, we hope they have a little less concentration.

"We have to respect Australia, but not too much."

Le Roy, who took charge of Oman in July last year, highlighted towering striker Josh Kennedy as an attacking threat along with Australia's leading European stars, Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell, in the away qualifier.

Kennedy, in career-best form for Japanese side Nagoya Grampus Eight, has six goals in his 16 internationals and is best known for his aerial prowess.

"Kennedy is not only skilful in the air, he is a good football player," Le Roy said. "When you have a player like that, it is important not to give too many corners or free-kicks.

"(But) he also goes well in the space, he is complementary with Cahill and Kewell.

"We have to be clever, we have to be ready tactically."

Oman almost pulled off a shock victory over Australia when the two nations met at the 2007 Asian Cup in Bangkok, but were denied by a late Cahill equaliser.