Jedinak ready to help Thai up a push for top spot

Mile Jedinak insists Australia will not be distracted by the unconventional build-up to this month's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Thailand as they seek to put a mini stumble behind them.

Australia v Iraq - 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Mile Jedinak commands the midfield Source: Getty Images AsiaPac

Successive draws against Saudi Arabia and Japan have sucked some of the momentum out of their bid to clinch top spot in AFC Group B qualifying on the road to Russia 2018.

They are two points adrift of the table-topping Saudis going into 15 November's clash with the bottom placed Thais at Bangkok's Rajamangala National Stadium and cannot afford any more mishaps. Preparations for the game have been dominated by the death of revered Thai monarch Bhumibol Adulyadej.

However, the initial edict of Thailand's military government to forbid fans of both nations from wearing their team colours and indulging in any form of celebration, or even cheering, have subsequently been relaxed.

While fully aware of the sensibilities, Jedinak is focusing his energies on the three vital points Australia are expected to pick up.

"Having played in Thailand before I know how passionate they are about there football," said the newly-minted Aston Villa midfielder

"The circumstances are a bit different this time and we all understand why and we respect that.

"But as players we have to go out and win a game of football ... we have played in all sorts of scenarios and conditions over the years and we are all looking forward to what we know will be a tricky test.

"We have to go in full of confidence.

"We will treat the game like any other. We will analyze them and discuss them as we have done with all the teams in our group and we intend to end up on the right side of a great performance and a great result."

Desperate to avoid slipping into third spot and having to face the possibility of a protracted play-off protocol to qualify for Russia, Jedinak downplays any doubts that may have arisen.

"Overall our position should be taken as positive," he added.

"The last couple of games have been a bit of a missed opportunity for us... but that's because we set high standards and is the way it should be.

"We need to take the positives from those draws and use them going forward."

With Villa showing signs of recovery under new coach Steve Bruce, Jedinak sees the push to bounce straight to the Premier League as a reachable ambition after a stuttering start to life I the Championship.

"It wasn't the start we all wanted and we have been doing everything we can to rectify that," said the 32 year old who arrived Ina three year deal from Crystal Palace.

"That changes the mood around the place. Everybody is feeling good about themselves now and looking forward to pushing on from here on in."

Jedinak said he had no hesitation in grabbing the chance to join Villa after five years at Selhurst Park, which included leading the club to the Premier League three and a half years ago.

"When the opportunity came around I jumped at it," he said. "It came around quickly and I knew what was at stake and what sort of club I was coming too... in that sense it was an exciting and it still is.

"I am hoping to achieve something really special in my time with this club. If we can get straight back up it will be massive thing for the club .

"There's a lot of time left in the season and so many games to be played and points up for grabs. "It only takes a good couple of weeks and you are right up there.

"There's plenty of optimism around over what we can achieve in the coming weeks and months.

"The games come thick and fast, and you the squad depth and feel as a group we have that."

Jedinak has taken Villa compatriot Jordan Lyden under his wing as the rookie from Perth battles an injury setback which will sideline him until Christmas.

He says of the 20 year-old, who made six senior appearances last season,

"if he keeps doing the right things and takes all the advice on-board, and keeps his head down, when the opportunity comes again he will have a really good go at it."

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4 min read
Published 3 November 2016 at 8:45pm
By Dave Lewis