Lucas Neill has been praised by his club coach Bruno Metsu after Al Wasl crashed to a home defeat without the Australia captain in midweek.
Neill is in Doha preparing for Wednesday's (AEDT) crucial 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iraq.
Al Wasl’s over-dependence on Neill was slammed by Metsu after a humiliating 4-0 loss to Al Dhafra at home in the Etisalat Cup.
Despite fielding Mariano Donda, Shikabala and Emiliano Alfaro, Al Wasl couldn’t dominate in Neill’s absence, conceding a hat-trick from Makhete Diop, with Mohammad Bandar scoring before the Senegalese striker’s third.
“Lucas Neill is a majorly important player,” Metsu told Golfnews.com.
“Everyone talks about Alfaro, Shikabala and Donda but Lucas is the most important player in our team.
“When I arrived at Al Wasl I said: ‘We need one leader, one central defender’, I chose Lucas.
”When you play without him it’s not the same side because he drives and pushes the team.
“We play zonal and to play a good zonal defence, you need a good leader to move. It’s the same with a car. If you’re not a good driver, sometimes your car will go off the road.
“Lucas is a good driver for the team. He’s got 86 caps for his national team and he’s the Socceroos captain.
”He’s not a small player. Of course he’s not fast, but he has fantastic mentality and is a good example.”
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck believes veteran goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has a key role to play in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign.