Australia have been drawn with Saudi Arabia, Oman and Thailand in Group D of the third round of the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 showpiece in Brazil.
But Osieck stressed he would not be underestimating the opposition. “There are a lot of strong teams in Asia right now, we know that from experience so I think you shouldn’t underrate the teams that we have in our group,” he said. “Saudi look pretty strong to me, but you never know where you stand with a team like Oman or even Thailand. “You have to consider they are all coached by international coaches… who have all had successful teams before, so I think they will try to introduce that in these teams.” The Socceroos are scheduled to play their first match at home against Thailand on September 2 and then what is shaping as their toughest match against Saudi Arabia away on September 6. They will then host Oman in October before away games against Oman and Thailand in November, with their final match against Saudi Arabia at home in February. Strong start crucial And Osieck knows getting the campaign off to a strong start is crucial. “When you go into qualifying you have to make sure that you have a positive start, that you build from there,” he said. “So it’s definitely good that we start with a home game, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that it’s going to be an easy one.” And Osieck is certainly not treating the Thailand clash as “an easy one”. Asked wether he’d use largely local based talent against Thailand instead of calling on all his star players based overseas, Osieck replied: “No, not at all.” “That would put in us in a position that we would be underrating this team. “We definitely will have the best team available. “Our task is to simply go through to Brazil. “We are now in the first stage, so we have to take every single step very seriously.” Australia dealt ‘good hand’ In the Asian qualifying campaign for the last World Cup in South Africa, the Socceroos were drawn in what was dubbed “the group of death” with Qatar, Iraq and China. But former Socceroo Robbie Slater says this time around Australia have been dealt a very good hand. “It’s a good draw, there’s no doubt about that,” he told AAP on Sunday. “It’s not as tough as the last time, that’s for sure. “Saudi Arabia is the other standout team in that group I guess, but certainly Australia are favourites in what is quite a friendly group.” “… When you look at having to finish top-two out of the four, it is a very good group for us. “If you look at Group C with Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea. That’s the group I’d probably call `the group of death’. “So we can be quite happy with the draw looking at the other groups.” But he echoed Osieck’s thoughts that World Cup qualifying is not time to use a second-string squad. “When it comes to World Cup qualifying you should use the best possible team,” he said. “You can’t muck around, you have to treat the other teams with respect, you don’t want any nasty surprises because it’s that important.”